Category Archives: Arts Education

Week 3: All About Bees!

During week 3 of the Garden of Fire Summer Learning Program, participants visited Tanglewood Nature Center and Museum for a hike, meeting new animal friends and exploring the secret science of bees.

How do plants attract bees and other pollinators to them? Which foods depend on bees for fertilization? What can we do to help the bees? Did do you know a queen bee can lay about 2000 eggs per day? What are the parts of a flower?

Despite the drizzle, students traveled on a hike through the Center, on the lookout for bees collecting pollen on flowers (remembering safety first)! A scavenger hunt helped the students look for many different types of pollinators – including bees, butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, flowering trees and more.

Week 2: SeedScapes

by Maryalice Little of Harp & HeART

The biological definition of pollination involves birds and bees and flowers. But the idea of pollination can also be used in a broader sense. Pollination also occurs when one idea generates another idea, when one thing leads to another.

 

This year, CareFirst and Harp & HeART presented Seedscapes in week two of the Garden of Fire program. Maryalice Little played various moods of live harp music, helping to pollinate the ideas that each participant holds in his/her heart and mind. The unique seeds produced will be the creative expressions, the “mark making” using a variety of media, which each participant is inspired to draw.

Last year, a shorter version of this program was offered at the end of summer celebration. After listening to Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, the traditional Greensleeves, and an improvisation, one young participant was particularly articulate in her drawings and explanations including ideas of happiness and sadness, a sense of separation and helping each other.Gof.jpg

Is a guinea pig a pollinator?

By student participants Keagan and Destiny of Corning Area Youth Center

Last week, the Corning Youth Center hosted Garden of Fire! Tanglewood Nature Center showed us Powerful Pollinators. A lot of the kids were surprised by the animals. Did you know a pollinator is an animal that moves pollen from a male anther of a flower to the female stigma of a flower? This helps to bring about fertilization of the ovules in the flower.

Some of the animals were owl, bearded dragon, cockroach and guinea pig. Kids were most surprised to see the guinea pig because guinea pigs are sometimes seen as pets and most pollinators are not seen as pets.

The kids loved it they want to do it again. We are looking forward to the next Garden of Fire event.

 

Week 1: Clayful Pollinators!

This summer’s Garden of Fire program kicked off with a field trip to 171 Cedar Arts Center in Corning, NY. Counselors from CareFirst collaborated with Amanda Warren, artist and ceramic studio technician at 171 Cedar Arts to provide a program that integrates clay-making with mindfulness and emotional well-being.

They started the session with introducing the theme of Powerful Pollinators and had a brainstorming session. They discussed the roles of pollinators in nature and different types of symbolism for pollination. They were asked to choose their favorite pollinator or pollinated plant to design on their tile.

Students sketched designs and ideas for creating their own hive tile out of clay.  After a short demo led by Amanda, students used their sketched ideas to embellish their own clay tile with their designs by using additional clay, stamps and carving tools.

Next, students painted their tiles with underglaze. In groups, youth took turns touring the clay studio and had the opportunity to try out the pottery wheels. The basics of wheel throwing was compared to centering one’s self through life’s challenges. The act of opening, pulling and shaping clay was compared to how we shape our lives by overcoming many obstacles.

 

 

A Sweet Relationship with the Natural World

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

Who was the first human to discover the sweetness of honey?

How did they take the leap from simply stealing honey from a hive to actually cultivating the bees?

Our relationship with the natural world has been formed over time by creative surges. 

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Every tool we’ve designed, every plant discovered, every recipe concocted, every animal domesticated, every continent explored represents a mixture of imagination and trial and error, which are in turn the building blocks of art and science.  From this foundation, history pollinates the future.

The Garden of Fire program celebrates the artist and scientist in all of our children!

Creativity and Change

CareFirst has always participated in Garden of Fire with a clear focus of incorporating lessons about life, death, grief, and healthy coping. This year, the Summer of Earth, was no different.

The summer workshop sessions provided by CareFirst staff and other community artists focused on change.   The earth changes with the coming and going of each season just like our emotions and experiences fluctuate over our lifetime.  We can use creativity as a way to adapt, adjust, and even promote change within ourselves.

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Images provided by Dan Gallagher Photography, 2017.

In one of the workshops this summer CareFirst instructor, Carly Cushing, and artists Tony Moretti and Gwen Quigley were talking with the students about the changes we see on the earth and in our life while building benches made from natural materials.  The project is a collaborative effort by the four different youth centers, and tends to grow and change as different centers add their own creative touch to it.  By the end of the first session with the Addison Youth Center, they found that their bench had become a Hippo!  The lines and shape of the bench took form and reminded the children of a hippo lumbering out of the water.  This was the perfect inspiration as the instructors were able to reflect on a beautiful story about the experience of change in the natural world.

The students and instructors shared together about the story of Owen and Mzee, a well-known and amazing true story about a close animal friendship (see children’s story “Owen & Mzee” by Isabella Hatkoff).  Owen was a baby Hippo when he was stranded in Kenya after the 2004 Tsunami.  With his mother and the other hippos in his pod having been swept away by the waters, Owen was deserted and almost died.  Villagers tirelessly tried to rescue him but it wasn’t until making it to a Kenyan Animal Sanctuary that he finally started to recover.   It was there that Owen met Mzee, a 130 year old Tortoise.   They became fast friends and Owen started looking to Mzee for support in adjusting to this huge change in his life.  When Mzee ate, Owen ate; when Mzee swam, so did Owen.  Their story of friendship, kindness, and resilience served as the perfect symbol for how all animals found on the earth can cope with the changing seasons throughout our lives.

The natural art the children had created, again, began to morph into exciting possibilities.  By the time the Laura Richardson Houghton Corning Youth center arrived later that day, a plan was put into motion to give our “Owen” his very own “Mzee”.  The children worked hard to create the foundation for a beautiful tortoise.

On day two, the Salvation Army group moved and sifted dirt to create natural clay from our local earth to put the finishing touches on the pair.  As the conversation of growth continued, one of the instructors reflected on the Iroquois belief of how the earth was created.  According to the story, before the earth was created, there was an island floating in the air where the Sky People lived.  A Sky Woman fell from the island where she landed in the vast, open, ocean.  The animals in the water helped the woman on the back of a turtle swimming nearby.  They helped to gather mud and place it on the turtle’s shell, where it grew and grew, eventually changing shape and creating the earth under our feet as we know it today.

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Images provided by Dan Gallagher Photography, 2017.

The Hornell Area Concern for Youth were the last group to add to the beautiful creation.  They decided that Sky Woman and the story of how the earth was created should be honored with the sculpture of Mother Nature.  Thus, the work of art changed yet again, leaving a collective group of meaningful sculptures representing CREATIVITY AND CHANGE.

CareFirst welcomes you to come see the sculptures that the children made at the Garden of Fire Festival being held at CareFirst (3805 Meads Creek Road, Painted Post, NY) on Friday, August 18, 2017.

Carly Cushing and Chelsea Ambrose, CareFirst

Gifts from the Earth

The Garden of Fire program is in full steAm! We are now in week five of the six-week summer program, and youth seem to be fully engaged and enjoying each special earth-themed workshop provided by professional artists and educators.

The Earth theme for this year’s program provides ample opportunity to create enriching lesson plans, covering topics of pollution, conservation, sustainability, geology, animals, plants, growth and more.

Incorporating arts and science, engineering and sculpture, natural patterns and math, wellness and wisdom, drumming and rhythm provides a unique, educational experience. It is incredibly rewarding to have the opportunity to teach the youth in the program, knowing that we are impacting and influencing their lives in a positive way.

During the first week of the program, we created 2-dimensional animal habitat scenes using recycled materials – repurposing trash into art!  The youth were very imaginative in their renditions of the animal habitats, transforming the recycled materials into nature and animal textures in their scenes.

In the third week of the program, we sculpted vessels out of clay, the mud of the earth, and decorated them with designs inspired by nature. The completed fossilized vessels resemble actual fossils found in rocks on the earth’s surface.

It is a gift to spend time with each other to discuss, communicate and share ideas.  Encouraging the youth and staff to speak openly without criticism, to make new friends, to interact with peers they do not typically interact with, to try new activities and learn new skills are all gifts to treasure and grow from.  These experiences provide us with the foundation and strength to power our mind, body, and soul.

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Images provided by Dan Gallagher Photography, 2017.

It is our responsibility as artists and educators to give back to the earth by teaching the youth participants to care for, appreciate and respect the beautiful and irreplaceable earth we live on.

Mother earth gives us the gift of nature and the Garden of Fire gives us the gift of spending time together connecting to nature. Through the Garden of Fire collaborative, it is a shared effort to teach and support the children in the community, cherishing the time spent together, and making every teachable moment count.

Amy Ruza, Youth and Family Programs Educator
The Rockwell Museum