Impact of public art/ecological art on school and community education: A study of three artists
The goal in this work was to investigate the connections among art, nature, and education and to consider how ecological art and artists can enrich and enliven the school curriculum. This research was conducted using qualitative and arts-based research methods to analyze the work of three environmental artists: Lynne Hull, Steven Siegel and Nils-Udo. Through personal interviews and examinations of their work, the researcher considered how this type of art can be used by educators and how such artists can engage with both schools and communities to foster a greater consciousness about our environment.
The work of Nils-Udo, Hull, and Siegel provide inspiration, ideas, and guidance for synthesizing these areas. Upon reflection, one can see how the themes that run throughout their work naturally link to various aspects of cognitive development and the school curriculum. Nils-Udo focuses on the continuous cycle of renewal, which in turn causes the viewer to look at the world in new ways, thus noting "the reality of existing phenomena." Creating habitats for wildlife, Hull seeks to inspire changes in human behavior by emphasizing a sense of collectiveness among species. Siegel chooses to organize his pieces around the theme of tiny parts combining into a whole, causing viewers to question their own size and place in the universe. From these themes emerge many possible links to classroom activities and projects that meet learning objectives in various disciplines, while engaging students in more meaningful interaction with the environment.
To synthesize and integrate the themes that emerged, the work of subjects as artists and then as educators was examined. While these artists are not literally operating primarily as educators, they have a lot to offer to teachers. They highlight crucial themes in environmental education that we need to consider and provide innovative ways of thinking about existing concepts. The practice of integrating artists like them into schools can radically transform education, enabling education to be more effective, inspiring, and enriching for students.