At this point in our history, educational priorities are focused on STEM: science, technology, engineering and math. This is a lopsided view of values in education. We need to encourage our school districts and educators to prioritize STEAM: science, technology, engineering, ART and math.

Artwork is the application of many of these other areas of education. Artists deal with physics and chemistry because they work with materials that have specific properties and limits. They deal with mathematics as they confront geometry, measurements and mechanics. Technology and engineering are utilized as they are in every other arena of production – the thing produced must work! It must be stable and function.

Artwork has been devalued as impractical. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yet, at the same time, artwork is creative.  It can be fanciful. This should not be used to denigrate art, but rather to reveal what it has to offer to other disciplines. Engineers and scientists must be creative. They must be inventive. Like artists, they must explore the boundaries of what has already been done to see what might be done.

Education must encourage creativity in all its forms. This will help our children build a world that can address unforeseen challenges including repercussions from climate change, population pressures and changing social, political, and environmental situations. Now, more than ever, we need our artists to give us the vision – a practical vision – for the future.

The students involved in the Garden of Fire are not worried about any of this. They are simply learning and having fun. It is our job to think about this on their behalf.

Connie Sullivan-Blum
Executive Director of The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes



2017 Garden of Fire Kick-Off

The Garden of Fire is back!

This year, with the Summer of Earth, we’ll be highlighting projects and themes related to life cycles, animal habitats, gardening, and so much more.

As always, the program kicked off with the reading and puppet show of the Garden of Fire Story. This week, Londyn (age 10) and Knightly (age 7) from the Addison Youth Center tell us their interpretation of the Garden of Fire story, as well as what they did this week at the program!

Friendship is a topic in the story of the Garden of Fire. It is important in the story because you need to treat your friends nicely. The characters in the story are the fox, eagle, dragon fly, bear, turtle, deer and Pauline, and they are all friends. They treat each other nicely. We have friends too and we treat them kindly. When one of us is sad or someone is being mean we stand up for one another.

We also learned about habitats and animals. Knightley’s favorite animal was Sophie the great horned owl because she has lots of ways to adapt to different habitats. Londyn’s favorite animal was the chinchilla because it was fluffy and it was the softest animal in the world. We also did a art project.

The art project was about the animals that Ian from Tanglewood Nature Center brought today. Knightley made a owl she thought it was a fun and exciting project. Londyn’s  favorite part was making a habitat for a owl. We also talked about what animals do for us.

Thanks, Londyn and Knightly – see you next week!