Category Archives: video

Amazing Animal Senses

By Bridget Sharry, Community Relations Manager at Tanglewood Nature Center

This summer is a perfect one for exploring our senses – we have the time and the space to deeply reflect on how we perceive the world around us! Humans are not the only animals that engage with our environment through vision, hearing, feeling, smell, and taste. Meet a few fellow creatures at Tanglewood Nature Center with Bridget Sharry and compare whether their senses are finer or duller than our own.

I don’t think anyone was surprised to learn that owl hearing is stronger than human hearing, but you might be surprised to ponder the ways that snakes can “see” heat without using their eyeballs at all! And many animals have senses that humans don’t – tarantula hairs can sense vibrations like a cat’s whiskers, and even better than that, many animals ranging from arachnids to avians can see colors (like ultraviolet) that humans cannot see. 

Science and art give us more ways to learn about and appreciate the unique and rich lived experiences of others. We can study a scorpion and determine that their skin “sees” ultraviolet light, and do experiments to confirm that owls can detect tiny details in nearly pitch-black conditions. But we’ll never quite be able to know what it’s like to be a spider taking in a spider’s life, or what a snake is really thinking about and how a snake imagines her world.

There are so many specialized sensory experiences of the world that we’ll just never know and never be able to try out ourselves! That’s a fun mystery for us. We can use our imaginations and empathy, and keep on learning about our planet all summer long and throughout our lives. 

Here are links to additional resources and information:

Making Sense of Animal Senses by Nancy Volk

WSKG PBS – How Animals Use Their Senses to Find Food

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Sights and Sounds at the Heritage Village & Mystery Box Challenge

For week 4 of Garden of Fire, partnering artists and educators present two virtual programs!

Sights and Sounds at the Heritage Village

Pat Monahan, Education/Events Coordinator

The Heritage Village of the Southern Finger Lakes is thrilled to provide a virtual experience of their historical site. Join Pat Monahan to explore the village with an eye on history using your senses of sight and hearing. See the Patterson Inn and compare a bedroom from long ago to your own bedroom. Learn about cooking food over a hearth with Mary Franklin, and discover how people kept rodents out of their kitchen in the 1700s. Then, visit with blacksmith Leon Golder in the Cooley Blacksmith Shop to learn how metal is shaped and forged in a fire.

Heritage Village Seek and Find Game: See if you can spot Ben Patterson’s pack and canteen in one of the spaces you visit virtually. It is just like Where’s Waldo.

Bonus: At the end of the video, Pat will tell you how to receive a free gift when you visit the Heritage Village in person.

Mystery Box: Turn Your Curiosity into Creativity

Gwen Quigley, Visual Artist
Tony Moretti, Visual Artist

Artists Gwen Quigley and Tony Moretti present a Mystery Box art project. The box contains all the elements to make a magical destination, and all it needs is you and your creativity for the materials to be transformed into an imagined world. 

But wait! Before you open your box to see what’s packed inside, take this challenge. Carefully, with your eyes closed or blindfolded, remove each item from your mystery box and use your senses, except your sense of sight to guess what each item is.

Close your eyes again for a minute and let yourself imagine. If you could go anywhere with your physical body, and if you could bring all your senses to explore, where would you like to go? Using the materials in the box, and the box itself, create your magical destination diorama. Then go exploring in the woods, in a garden or in your backyard to find new materials to add to your diorama scene. Can you find all the colors of the rainbow in nature? You can continue to add elements from nature to your special creation over time.

If you did not receive a Mystery Box, create your own box with art supplies and natural materials to complete this project. You can use a shoe box, shipping box or scraps of cardboard. Be creative and have fun!

When you’re done, please take a moment to fill out this survey to let us know how you did. Take Survey >>

Exploring Art with your Mind & Senses

Carly Nichols, Support Services Manager
Ann Recotta, Education and Volunteer Programs Coordinator
Amy Ruza, Youth and Family Programs Educator

In this video session, The Rockwell Museum and CareFirst educators explore American landscape paintings in the Rockwell Collection and provide ways to use your senses to imagine what you might see, smell, touch, hear and taste.

Carly Nichols, Support Services Manager at CareFirst begins with a breathing meditative exercise focusing on an artwork that depicts a serene landscape with a forest and rushing waterfall. She acknowledges how stressful the past several months have been, and demonstrates how you can use your senses to bring down your level of stress and worry. She introduces a S.A.F.E box, which stands for “Sensing All Feelings and Emotions”.  You can fill this box with all sorts of things that activate your senses and help you to feel calm and relaxed. 

After you are focused, Ann Recotta, Education and Volunteer Programs Coordinator at The Rockwell will show you how to explore the painted landscape scene using your senses. This is a fun way to connect with artwork and to think about how it makes you feel. The next time you visit The Rockwell Museum, try doing this!

Next, Amy Ruza, Youth and Family Programs Educator presents a more abstract landscape painting where the bright and vibrant colors are exaggerated and the expressive style captures the spirit of the place. She points out how the artist creates perspective by including “vanishing points” in her painting, where two lines meet to create a more three-dimensional scene on a flat surface. The artist also paints different textures and plays with scale to create layers of depth.

Then, create your own fantasy landscape inspired by the paintings in The Rockwell collection using your imagination and mixed-media materials. Construct a place you want to visit, and think about who you may want to take with you. It can be real or invented. Your scene can take place on land, in water, in the sky, in outer space or event another dimension. Write about your special place, and think about the senses that you will experience in your scene. Where is your scene located? Why is it special to you? What do you see, smell, taste, touch and hear?

Keep your writing and any small objects you like in your S.A.F.E. box as a reminder of a place that can provide relief from the stresses of your life and ground you with nature. Using your mind and body to experience art and connect with your inner emotions is a wonderful way to take a deep breath and find peace and solace within your life.  

When you’re done, please take a moment to fill out this survey to let us know how you did. Take Survey >>

Shape, Rattle, and roll

By Amanda Warren, Ceramics Technician and Instructor

Welcome to the second virtual week of Garden of Fire: Summer of Exploring Your Senses! This week 171 Cedar Arts Center’s Ceramics Technician and Instructor, Amanda Warren, demonstrates how to make your own noise maker rattle. Using design inspiration from some ceramic vessels in The Rockwell Museum’s collection, Amanda will show you how to create a rattle using kiln-fired clay and air dry Model Magic clay. Experience touch, sound, and sight with this claytastic, hands-on activity.

When you’re done, please take a moment to fill out this survey to let us know how you did. Take Survey >>

Kiln-fired Clay

Air Dry Model Magic Clay

Week 5: Designs by Nature

During week 5 of the Garden of Fire 2018 Summer Learning Program, students worked with artists Tony Moretti and Gwen Quigley to create pollinators and collages out of found and natural materials.

Tony and Gwen are known for their whimsical creations that unite nature and play, with a focus on teaching the safe usage of tools and materials to youth.



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.



Garden of Fire Festival: Celebrating the Summer of Earth

The Garden of Fire festival held last Friday, August 18th at CareFirst was fabulous! The festival was tremendously successful, thanks to the outstanding support from the community, amazing educators, talented artists and volunteers.  Here are some pictures from the day. Thank you to Dan Gallagher for documenting the festival so well and capturing the essence of the program through incredible photography and video!


The Native American Council of Corning Incorporated joined us for the opening ceremony.  Musician Sue Spencer lead us through the chants she previously wrote with the youth participants during one of the sessions, drumming to the chorus, “Thank You Mother Earth”.

The activities were a blast.  Thank you to the Food Bank of the Southern Tier, SSC Library, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Corning Museum of Glass, Wegmans – Corning, Zumba Instructors Gianna Lutz and Amanda Wylie and to all the collaborators who made this day so special!

Corning Catering generously supported the festival by providing a tasty lunch for everyone!

Thank you to the Addison and Corning-Painted Post Area School Districts for supporting this program and making Garden of Fire an incredible experience for all the youth participants!

The adobe mud sculptures on display at the festival were created with artists Tony Moretti and Gwen Quigley at one of the sessions leading up to the event.  Watch the Adobe Clay Creation Time Loop Video here.


The closing ceremony brought everyone together for one last musical chant honoring mother earth.

This program is supported in part by The Triangle Fund, Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes and Rose’s Youth Philanthropists.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to make the event so wonderful!

Amy Ruza
Youth and Family Programs Educator
The Rockwell Museum