Tag Archives: art

“When the earth needs a drink, Mother Nature makes it Rain!”

There is something about the smell that lingers in the air after a rainstorm in the summer time… for me it is extremely calming and refreshing, and it brings back many memories of summers spent playing outside as a child.

Unfortunately, this summer we have had very few rainstorms, meaning far fewer chances to enjoy this experience. However, this week we were lucky enough to receive some much needed rain!

The rain triggered a conversation between myself and a 9-year-old girl. I asked her why she thought rain was important, and her answer was sweet and simple: “It helps everything on the earth, like plants so they are able to grow, and for people to drink!” She then continued with “When the earth needs a drink, Mother Nature makes it rain!”

 The Garden of Fire continues to spark imaginations this year with the theme of WATER.

So far this summer the Corning Youth Center has visited The Rockwell Museum to make clay animal sculptures to protect their gardens, they have made and decorated their own rain sticks while learning about how to cope with their own emotions, and they have visited the Tanglewood Nature Center to go on a hike, meet some of their fascinating animals, and participate in a drumming circle, all while learning about the importance of water.

In each of these activities youth were encouraged to use their imaginations and to be creative. For their animal sculptures at The Rockwell, each youth was asked to choose a specific animal that they themselves could relate to. Some youth chose a bird, some chose snakes, another chose an elephant, and a young girl chose a lion. When asked why she chose a lion, specifically a male lion, she said:

“Because lions are strong, courageous, and fierce, like me!”

These moments are why we love Garden of Fire.

Ashlee Peachey
Laura Richardson Houghton Corning Youth Center

 

Photos courtesy of Dan Gallagher Photography

The Power of Water

This year’s theme is Water, and what a fantastic, flexible, flowing theme for the summer! Water is one of the most attractive of the elements – who doesn’t want to dip their toes in a stream, splash around in a stream, put their hands under a waterfall?

Water is powerful in two ways – it is a dynamic force with unique physical and chemical properties, and it is a constant reminder of our connection to the rest of the life on our planet.

Now, “unique physical and chemical properties” sounds cool to me, but it doesn’t necessarily fall that way on a kid’s ears. The trick to get them turned on to the awesomeness of water is to bring in our animal ambassadors, and encourage the kids to imagine how our animals use, adapt to, or even defy the powers of water in their daily life. The kids know how frigid winter can be here in New York, and how dry a summer drought can be. How do our amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals survive in a constantly changing environment?

The states of matter – solid, liquid, and gas – may not seem that exciting in a textbook. But when kids can see a grey tree frog up close and learn how this tiny creature changes his whole body chemistry to prevent the water in his cells from turning to ice and bursting his cell walls – that adds wonder and awe to what the youth know about two hydrogens and one oxygen molecule.

Talking about and meeting our animals also encourages the kids to reflect on their own bodies, and how important water is to their survival. The water in our cells connects us to the grey tree frog, and to the lettuces and tomatoes growing in the gardens. In each living being on the planet, H20 is circulating. Humans are breathing it out as water vapor; trees are transporting it through xylem and phloem. The Garden of Fire program provides room for kids to appreciate the strength of water in its different physical states, and the inspiration of water as a bond between all living things.

Water unifies, strengthens, and nourishes the children in the program – not just quenching their physical thirst or plumping the peppers they will harvest later, but also provoking questions and inspiring reflection on our responsibilities to each other and to the rest of the life on our planet.

Bridget Sharry
Community Relations Manager
Tanglewood Nature Center and Museum

 

Photos courtesy of Dan Gallagher Photography

Science & Art

What is the connection between science and art?

This is the type of question that adults might ask when they hear about the Garden of Fire summer program. We have been taught to see science and art as antithetical. Science is objective while art is subjective. Science is a product of reason and art is a product of emotion.

Garden of Fire challenges those assumptions.

The impulse to make art may start out with emotion, but there is a lot of rational thought that goes into making a piece of art a reality. The artist deals with materials whose physical properties determine how they can be used. Like scientists and engineers, artists are constantly pushing the physical limits of their materials – inventing new ways for the materials to be used. As with science and engineering, invention requires mathematics, physics, and chemistry.

On the other hand, we imagine science as a bloodless pursuit devoid of emotion and passion, but this is not the case. Scientists are creative and inventive, asking questions about common sense assumptions and breaking boundaries. Like art, science can be disturbing, exciting, awe inspiring.

The students involved in the Garden of Fire don’t think about art and science this way at all. They haven’t fully absorbed society’s message that there is a deep divide between the two endeavors. They’re just having fun learning.

Garden of Fire summer program launches next week – and we couldn’t be more excited!

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

2016: Summer of Water!

Last week, Garden of Fire partners met at The Rockwell Museum to finalize many details about programming and discussed aspects of this year’s theme of WATER. 

We are all very excited to be flowing into year three of this wonderful program for youth in our area . Water is essential to the existence of life and can be a great symbol of the relationship between all living things.

More than half of the human body is composed of water and about 71% of planet earth is water. Water can move through just about anything and over time can carve canyons.

Drop by drop, little by little, in the lives of children and teens who participate in the program, we hope to help open a stream of expression through the arts and a sense of wonder through the science that can move through their entire lives.

Participants can look forward to many water-themed projects and programs. For example, as the youth centers grow their gardens, they’ll work with Tanglewood Nature Center and learn about how crucial water is for gardens to grow, and how plants adapt to different climates based on availability of water in their natural habitat.IMG_8341

At The Rockwell, students will make their own Clay Animal Garden Sculptures, created with symbolism meant to protect and grow their garden. With CareFirst, students will make their own rain sticks in conjunction with reflection on internal growth.

We are so excited to launch this summer’s program – it can’t come soon enough! Look for the full summer schedule coming soon. Until then….

 

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Gigi Alvare, Director of Education

The Rockwell Museum

The Power of Play

Last Saturday morning, as I stepped outside, I was overwhelmed by the smell of summer. I thought to myself, “I wait all year just for this.”

As a child, I loved the freedom of summer, endless days with friends and play, and very little structure. Free time is so important for kids. It provides a space for creativity and connectedness.

The Garden of Fire Programs prides itself on offering educational, artful activities that participants would not experience in the regular classroom.
The Garden of Fire Programs prides itself on offering educational, artful activities that participants would not experience in the regular classroom.

As adults, we also know that children lose many of the skills they achieve in the school year when they are away from a learning environment. Kids from disadvantaged backgrounds are especially in danger of losing basic math, science, reading and writing skills in the summer.

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Garden of Fire provides programming that balances those competing needs.  While keeping children tuned into math, science, and writing, it also provides a space for playfulness and creativity. The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes and our partners are thrilled to have been a part of this innovative program.

Dr. Constance Sullivan-Blum
Executive Director
The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes

Mistakes Become Discoveries!

Imagine a place where your child can create a piece of art without the pressure of a grade, the stress of a deadline, the absence of a requirement, with and endless supply of tools for his or her creation.

Imagine a place where he or she can speak openly about personal emotions and loss. This is a place where people listen free of judgment. It is somewhere that, after hearing how you drew the birds in the sky and they did not come out how you wanted, your neighbor throws her paintbrush in the air and shouts: Mistakes become discoveries!

We’ve found our place. This is why we love the Garden of Fire.

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The Corning Youth Center went to The Rockwell Museum on Tuesday. A discussion and meditation led by CareFirst’s Chelsea Ambrose prompted a powerful conversation about grief and loss experienced in the lives of our youth. A safe space was created for youth of different ages, backgrounds, and experiences to connect through their hardships and no longer feel alone, but to feel united and empowered by those sitting beside them. We walked through The Rockwell and discussed pieces of art through their expression and meaning and how each child can express themselves when they sit down to create art.

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This week’s project was to create and design a clay tile. A ten year old described her clay tile. “The clouds are eyes and the raindrops are tears.” She told me the tree represents growth and how she will never stop growing.

This was a beautiful project. The Garden of Fire has given our youth an outlet of expression where words do not suffice.

Maybe it seems silly that, with a project focused on a time of overwhelming emotion or change in life, an eight year old raises her hand to ask, “How do you draw a Minion?” But, if you ask her why the Minion is relevant to her project, she will tell you that last week she went to the movies with her best friend and she finally felt “really happy.”

This is why we love the Garden of Fire.

Caitlin McConville
Laura Richardson Houghton Corning Youth Center