Beyond the Surface: Conference Focuses on Environmental Art in Action

How can environmental art engage the environment and the individual, activate awareness, and integrate perspectives that result in unexpected and innovative approaches to environmental literacy? Join the Schuylkill Center  for Environmental Education in a daylong conference of ideas and innovative thinking, investigating relationships between art and nature. 

While the natural world has captured the imagination of artists for centuries, today more and more artists are thinking beyond the studio, blending art, science and social practice with a fresh sense of immediacy, connecting art to nature and environmental issues. No longer content with scratching the surface of environmental problems, these artists want to move beyond the surface to engage audiences in becoming part of the solution.

This conference brings a team of cutting-edge environmental artists and arts professionals to Philadelphia to share this work with you, to discuss ways art can create environmental awareness while restoring ecological systems.

The artists presenting at the conference have been working with these ideas for much of their careers. To call attention to climate change, for example, Eve Mosher painted a high-water line across Manhattan, showing people where the water would rise to if sea-level projections occur. Stacy Levy’s artwork in the Schuylkill Center’s Sensory Garden remediates our building’s stormwater, which had been compromising our own forest. Lillian Ball projected a shifting, multicolored map of the Arctic circle onto a sphere of ice, the ice melting even as the projected image showed a vanishing Arctic.

The Schuylkill Center’s Art Department has brought artists to its 340-acre site since 2001. This year, the Center has gone further, examining how art intersects with other disciplines — education, ecology, architecture, engineering and planning, to name a few — to create fresh innovations and exciting experiences for the public. Our project has brought together an Advisory Team of artists and curators who work in the field of environmental art. (Visit www.schuylkillcenter.org/art for more information about this project and the team, and to read their blogs).

"We believe art can help to repair a broken relationship between humans and nature, while simultaneously transforming audiences from passive observers to active participants in ecosystems," says Jenny Laden, Director of Environmental Art. "We are re-thinking how art exists at nature centers, and are eager to share these findings with our colleagues in the art and environmental communities. We welcome artists, educators, environmentalists, scientists, designers, landscape architects, teachers and students of all ages to this groundbreaking event."

Conference admission is $80 for the general public, $60 for  members of the Schuylkill Center and $40 for students, artists, educators.

Register online HERE. For more information, call the art department at 215-482-7300 x 113, visit www.schuylkillcenter.org/art, or email artprogram@schuylkillcenter.org.