Whatever part of nature we touch, it, in return, touches us. Artworks dealing with nature give us a deeper sense of the ecology of the planet and are perhaps best understood in terms of human experience. That's because they reflect attitudes toward the natural world and humankind's place in it. Artful art·ful
1. Exhibiting art or skill: "The furniture is an artful blend of antiques and reproductions" Michael W. Robbins.
2. acts of creation become records of the linkages between self and the material world. However, the recording of the material world is never wholly objective or neutral. Nor is it without contrasting interpretations.
The contradictions that exist in comparative views of nature are reflected in my early experiences of growing up on a farm in rural southern Indiana Southern Indiana, in the United States, is notable because it is culturally distinct from the rest of the state. The area's geography has led to a blend of Northern and Southern culture that is not found in the rest of Indiana. . The rolling hills Rolling hills are like a mountain chain, only a "hill chain" of hills that roll on and on continually. You will often find them in between plains and mountains, near major rivers, or randomly anywhere. The only places without rolling hills are deserts and flood plains. and existing soil conditions in our county made the farmland very susceptible to erosion. Farming with horse drawn implements did not help the situation. Although the wash-outs were a hardship for my dad, for a small boy, the deep gullies became great hiding places for a Wild West shootout Shootout
Venture capital jargon. Refers to two or more venture capital firms fighting for the startup. . In my make believe world, the untended fields could be remote and inaccessible inaccessible Surgery adjective Unreachable; referring to a lesion that unmanageable by standard surgical techniques–eg, lesions deep in the brain or adjacent to vital structures–ie, not accessible. See Accessible. , savage and dangerous, or wild and untamed. As I grew older, the horses were replaced with tractors, and with improved farming practices, we gradually began to transform the land. The rugged terrain that conjured up wilderness fantasies became cultivated fields of gentle contours--inviting and workable, productive and bountiful Bountiful, city (1990 pop. 36,659), Davis co., N central Utah; inc. 1892. It is a residential suburb N of Salt Lake City with some farming and floral nurseries; machinery and motor vehicles are produced. Bountiful was settled by Mormons in 1847. , controlled and patterned.
Like my youthful perceptions of farmland, artists' interpretations of nature can range from uncorrupted wilderness to cultivated formality formality, in chemistry: see chemical equilibrium; concentration. , from untamed to tamed tame
adj. tam·er, tam·est
1. Brought from wildness into a domesticated or tractable state.
2. Naturally unafraid; not timid: "The sea otter is gentle and relatively tame" . Whether portraying a place, weather, seasons, light, animals, flowers, or food, artists respond to the contrary qualities of the natural world and make conscious choices that transform meaning and the way we interpret their portraits of nature. Likewise, when selecting natural materials for their craft, weavers, potters, and woodworkers consider the contrasting qualities of nature's raw products and make thoughtful decisions that impact on the final form and function.
The artful work of a landscape painter or weaver, in a way, heals. It joins us with nature. To join, the etymological et·y·mo·log·i·cal also et·y·mo·log·ic
Of or relating to etymology or based on the principles of etymology.
et root for art, is an act of healing. My father's artful work as a farmer was, in a way, a healing of the earth.
Perhaps we might look at the artistic behaviors described in this issue's lessons as acts of healing. Rather than looking at these lessons as projects to do, think of them as artful processes to engage in. Rather than look at the results of these lessons as commodities or products to make, think of them as records of accomplishment or meaningful messages. As we consider incorporating these lessons into our own curriculum, we might ask how these experiences with nature can give students a deeper sense of the ecology of the planet. How can they help students better understand the natural world and their place in it? How can they be connected to their own life experiences? How can we build on the strong tradition of objective observation?
Whatever we touch in nature touches us. That's nature's gift.
Eldon Katter, Editor