Archive for the ‘Special Articles & Interviews’ Category

The ART+BIO Collaborative has announced a professional development workshop for educators teaching in formal and informal learning environments. Program participants will have special access to art work from the public and non-public collections of the new Harvard Art Museums, as well as areas not frequently accessed by the public.

Information about the new workshop, plus information about upcoming trips to Puerto Rico and the southwest are listed below. This information has been added to the Classes Near You sections for Massachusetts, Texas and New Mexico.

After reading about the new classes, be sure to move on to the conversation with the instructors of the professional development workshop.

    ART+BIO Collaborative

    The ART+BIO Collaborative in Cambridge, MA fosters the integration of science, nature, and art through novel collaborations, research, and education. They design innovative art+science curriculum and turn public spaces into interactive learning environments.

    NEW! Professional Development Workshop for Educators

    Combining Comparative Anatomy & the Visual Arts:
    A Professional Development Workshop for Educators

    Dates: April 20- 22, 2015 from 1-4:30pm

    Location: Harvard Art Museums, 32 Quincy St., Cambridge MA, 02138
Fee: $25, Does not include museum admission

    This ART+BIO Collaborative workshop introduces educators to creatively combining visual art and life sciences to engage students in creative art-making and deeper learning of advanced scientific concepts. Working from museum collections and exhibits at the Harvard Art Museums and Harvard Museum of Natural History, participants will use biological illustration to learn about comparative anatomy and evolution. Participants will design creative art+science collaborations for their own classrooms and participate in collaborative art-making.  This workshop is ideal for 6th-12th grade Art and Science teachers, however, all grade levels and informal educators welcome, along with any artists, naturalists or students interested in creative, interdisciplinary teaching and learning approaches. No previous drawing or science experience necessary.  This workshop is part of the 2015 Cambridge Science Festival. 
    Pre-Registration required. Participants will earn 10 Professional Development points.

    Sign-up Today!

    Download flyer, share with friends and colleagues

    Download flyer

    ISLAND LIFE: Tropical Field Studies of Art+Nature in Puerto Rico, March 8-14, 2015- Spring Break

    Embark on an artistic exploration of the diverse tropical wildlife of Puerto Rico, including rainforest, mountain, beach and coastal environments.
    View Details/Register

    DESERT LIFE: Field Studies of Art+Nature in the Southwest
    June 26-July 2, 2015

    Discover the unique beauty of the desert in this one-of-a-kind artistic journey through white sand dunes, black lava rock, desert caves, and mountain landscapes of West Texas and New Mexico.
    View Details/Register

A Conversation with Stephanie Dowdy-Nava and Saul Nava

Stephanie Dowdy-Nava, primary instructor of the professional development (PD) workshop and co-founder of the ART+BIO Collaborative would like to start a conversation with you about science and art. You can join in the conversation by responding to her prompt below. Please respond by typing your comments in the Comment box.

Integrating biology and art helps students understand advanced scientific concepts more deeply and fully engage their creativity through informed, thoughtful artmaking. The PD program focuses on designing creative collaborations between natural history and the visual arts using comparative anatomy and biological illustration.  What are some creative ways you have successfully integrated art and science in your classroom, studio or lab? Share your ideas here and they could become part of our workshop discussion.

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By Botanical Art Society of the National Capital Region

Postcard image courtesy BASNCR.

Go to the Anthenaeum

Preserving Our Heritage:
Native and Heirloom Plants

North Virginia Fine Arts Association
November 13, 2014 – January 4, 2015

Each year, the artists of the Botanical Art Society of the National Capital Region (BASNCR) hold at least one juried exhibition in the Washington area to promote awareness of botanical art as a living art form. BASNCR artists work in a variety of media including the traditional watercolor on paper, as well as ink, graphite, gouache, colored pencil, oil, and silverpoint.

This year’s exhibition, Preserving Our Heritage, will be held at the Athenaeum in Old Town Alexandria, VA. The exhibition opens on November 13, 2014 and continues through January 3, 2015. Susan Frei Nathan of Susan Frei Nathan Fine Works on Paper juried the exhibition. Susan has over two decades of experience evaluating botanical art, and is a passionate expert and champion of botanical artwork.

The exhibition offers the artists of BASNCR an opportunity to showcase their favorite native or heirloom plants. There are a variety of definitions for both types of plants. A generally accepted definition for a native plant is one that occurs naturally in a particular region, ecosystem, or habitat without direct or indirect human intervention.

Some define heirloom plants in terms of the length of time a cultivar has been grown, or its existence before a specific date (e.g., 1951). Some use heirloom in its traditional sense and define an heirloom plant as a cultivar that has been handed down from one family or group member to another for many generations.

Whatever the definition for either category of plant, BASNCR artists each have favorite plants that they grow or admire (or anguish over not being able to grow), and will present them in their artwork at the Athenaeum.

Participating Artists:

      Ann Baker
      Carol Tudor Beach
      Judy Brown
      Tina Thieme Brown
      Esther Carpi
      Anne Clippinger
      Karen Coleman
      Jane Dowling
      Lee Boulay D’Zmura
      Bonnie Driggers
      Joan Ducore
      Mary Elcano
      Margaret McPherson Farr (Betsy)
      Lara Gastinger
      Gail Harwood
      Mary Page Hickey
      Juliet Kirby
      Jerry Kurtzweg
      Pamela Mason
      Elena Maza-Borkland
      Linda C. Miller
      Marsha Ogden
      Berit Robertson
      Mary Jane Zander

An opening reception will be held on Sunday, November 16, 2014 from 4-6 pm.

Gallery Hours:
Thursday, Friday and Sunday from 12–4 pm and Saturdays from 1–4 pm.
The Athenaeum is closed on holidays. Admission to the gallery is free.

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Shasta Daisy. © Nancy Wheeler Klippert. All rights reserved

Shasta Daisy. © Nancy Wheeler Klippert. All rights reserved

The Legacy of Luther Burbank,
A Gallery Show

Sebastopol Center for the Arts
Sebastopol, CA
September 11 – October 25, 2014

Fourteen Sonoma County botanical artists will show paintings of plants from the Luther Burbank Experiment Garden in Sebastopol and the Luther Burbank Home & Garden in Santa Rosa. The paintings were created in colored pencil on a variety of papers and films. The colored pencil paintings feature botanically accurate portraits of selected plants, fruits, vegetables, flowers and trees created through Burbank’s experiments. The artists worked directly with specimens at both locations and have created a “florilegium” of Burbank’s work in Sonoma County. Learn more about Luther Burbank’s legacy.

You’re Invited!
Wild Black Cherry. © Suzanne Cogen. All rights reserved

Wild Black Cherry. © Suzanne Cogen. All rights reserved

An opening reception will be held on Thursday,
September 11, 2014 from 6-7:30 PM at Sebastopol Center for the Arts in Sebastopol, CA (see map).

Gallery Hours:
Tuesday – Friday 10 AM – 4 PM
Saturday 1-4 PM

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Sustainability: Supporting long-term ecological balance.

— Dictionary.com

What does sustainability mean to you?

In this issue of Plants, Life, Riverside we talk about achieving sustainability in an urban setting with Taher Bhaijee, a recent graduate of UC Riverside and co-founder of SustainRiverside.org, a new resource that will show residents how to adopt new approaches to living.

SustainRiverside.org is well on its way of becoming an informative resource for the residents of Riverside, CA. The soft launch for the site occurred earlier this month during Earth Week. Currently the site features a long list of sustainability events happening in the city. Soon new posts and videos will be added every other Monday.

Visit SustainRiverside online and you will see that the organization has laid out its objectives clearly. Taher is actively working with community groups to achieve the following goals:

    Community Goal
    To develop Green Teams in every neighborhood in Riverside.

    Energy Goal

    To reduce peak load demand by 10%.

    Food Goal

    Create 5% increase participation in community gardens.

    Water Goal

    To reduce Riverside’s water consumption by 20%.

    Waste Goal

    To reduce Riverside’s waste by 20%.

    Health Goal

    To reduce obesity rates by 20%.

    Transportation Goal

    To increase ridership on public transportation by 50%.

I spoke with Taher about some of these goals. I asked him to explain what a Green Team is and what such a team should strive to accomplish in their respective neighborhoods. Taher explained that his idea of a Green Team is modeled after the Wood Streets Green Team, an established team of residents actively involved in helping other residents achieve a sustainable lifestyle. They conduct workshops, involve themselves in city issues and support related groups in the city. Taher hopes to establish a Green Team in each of Riverside’s 26 neighborhoods.

Another objective of SustainRiverside is to increase participation in community gardens by five percent. What does this 5% look like?

Taher explained that by “five percent”, he means 5% of Riverside’s population. The city has a population of 300,000 residents, so he hopes to get at least 15,000 residents involved with existing and future gardens. Taher hopes the involvement with community gardens will encourage residents to lead healthier lives. He says that his work at the UCR Community Garden cleaning, watering and growing vegetables taught him how to live more sustainably and taught him how to live more healthfully. 

Recruiting 15,000 residents may sound like a bold goal, but it really isn’t that outrageous. Especially given the success of the recent Grow Riverside conference, a conference about urban agriculture and the development of a sustainable food system in the city. Taher says he hopes SustainRiverside can play a role in communicating the efforts of all parties involved in the Grow Riverside movement and to communicate these efforts through one platform.

SustainRiverside is making great strides reaching out to the public and showing people how they can live more sustainably. The next lesson in sustainability is scheduled for May 17, 2014. On this day SustainRiverside and the Wood Streets Green Team will embark on a progressive bus tour to promote community, public transportation, local businesses and recycled art. Bus tour participants will meet at a local bus stop, board the bus together and then visit the Riverside Farmer’s Market in downtown. They will then go to Tio’s Tacos to eat lunch and to view the gallery of recycled art.

Would you like to join the progressive bus tour and learn more about SustainRiverside.org? Contact Taher Bhaijee or visit SustainRiverside on Facebook.

About Taher Bhaijee

Taher has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Bachelor of Arts in History and has been actively involved with sustainability efforts around UC Riverside. As President of Sustainable UCR, he worked on projects such as the UCR Community Garden, the Power Rangers Program, the Recycling Proposal, the Composting Initiative, and the Grid Alternative Solarton. He is now working on Riverside-wide sustainability projects as an intern at the Mayor’s office. He hopes to build a healthier and greener Riverside.

Who else is working on creating a greener Riverside? Take a look.

Related Articles

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Plants, Life, Riverside is an ongoing interpretive project about plants in an urban setting. How are natural areas managed around the 12th largest city in California? Let’s find out.

Martha Mclean Anza Narrows Park and the Santa Ana River Trail

Martha Mclean Anza Narrows Park and the Santa Ana River Trail

The City of Riverside is home to more than 311,000 residents and is divided into twenty-six distinct neighborhoods covering 81 square miles (Riverside Office of Economic Development, 2014). There is a lot of concrete, asphalt and stucco out here and commutes during rush hour can be absolutely horrible. 

Riverside is located on the western edge of Riverside County, a county covering over 7,200 square miles of southern California (County of Riverside, 2014). While heavily populated, it does have natural areas where plants and animals are protected. These areas, and other open space areas in western Riverside county, are protected by the Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan.

The Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP) was created to establish a balance between land development, the protection of plants and animals, and the establishment of a sustainable economy while complying with state and federal Endangered Species Acts. Implemented in 2003, the MSHCP is a component of a larger project called the Riverside County Integrated Project (RCIP).

The MSHCP addresses many issues. To learn more about the Plan, I contacted Patricia Lock-Dawson, former grant writer for the County who was involved with the creation of the MSHCP. She is also one of the authors of the MSHCP Implementation Guidance Manual used to train city planners working in the fourteen cities covered by the Plan.

According to the MSHCP, the population of Riverside county will increase 400% by the year 2040 to 4.5 million people, with most of this growth occurring in the Inland Empire (MSHCP, Section 1.2.1). To prevent fragmenting open space and creating small islands of habitat unable to sustain local species, the Plan establishes a protocol guiding land use decisions. The Plan covers 1.26 million acres and 146 listed and unlisted species (MSHCP, ES.6 Goals of the MSHCP).

The Habitat Conservation Plan took about 8 years to complete. The specific function of the Plan, according to Lock-Dawson, is to streamline the economic development of the region by offering a “one-stop shop” where developers can satisfy permitting requirements with the County, the state and the federal government without running around pulling permits from every agency. The Plan enables developers to satisfy permit requirements by working with one entity — the County’s Habitat Conservation Authority.

A search of published newspaper articles revealed that the Plan has both supporters and opponents. The Plan has always had its ups and downs when it comes to public perception and Lock-Dawson says the biggest challenge the Plan faced was getting cities and developers to sign-on. Everyone was suspicious of the Plan. Cities and developers thought the Habitat Conservation Plan would interfere with development and natural resource agencies were concerned the County would not be a good steward of local natural resources and let development go wild. The County had to work diligently to earn the confidence of all parties. 

The MSHCP is a document with good intentions and is designed to benefit both people and nature. However I think it’s safe to say that only a small number of people have browsed through it. This is unfortunate because this document is not only for county officials, biologists and land owners. Anyone can read the Plan. Residents of western Riverside county can even see how the MSHCP applies to their area by entering their Assessors Parcel Number into the Conservation Summary Report Generator

In addition to being a comprehensive and thorough conservation plan, the MSHCP is a great interdisciplinary educational tool. I asked Lock-Dawson how she would explain the MSHCP to kids to teach them about local natural resources. She said she would begin by not using the acronym and would refer to it as something other than a “conservation plan” because the concept might be too much for young children to comprehend. She says she would present it first as a big map and say, “Here’s where plants and animals live” and then show how habitat has changed over time. She would then explain to kids that many people worked together to make sure the natural areas in our region would be preserved for them and for their children. 

I asked Lock-Dawson what she would like people to know about this often misunderstood document. She said she would like them to understand that these types of efforts keep Riverside from becoming a place where no one wants to live. She adds, “It is what keeps our world beautiful. Natural resources need to be managed and controlled. We are not the only ones here. We have a responsibility towards the future.”

The MSHCP in the Classroom

The Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan is much more than a heavy government document. It is a treasure chest of ideas for the classroom. I quickly made note of some topics in the MSHCP and then spent time on the website of the Next Generation Science Standards browsing topics and core ideas. What a way to make a school-home-nature connection!

Literature Cited

City of Riverside, Office of Economic Development. Retrieved March 24, 2014 from http://www.riversideca.gov/econdev/data-and-demographics.

County of Riverside, California. Riverside County History. Retrieved, March 24, 2014, from http://www.countyofriverside.us/Visitors/CountyofRiversideInformation/RiversideCountyHistory.aspx.

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By Philadelphia Society of Botanical Illustrators

Every year the Philadelphia Society of Botanical Illustrators is given the opportunity by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society to demonstrate our skills at the Philadelphia Flower Show. This is a wonderful chance for our organization to explain the fascination of botanical art to the world at large.

Some of the artists think this is great fun. But some do not. It is certainly different from the peace and quiet most of us experience when painting. People crowd around us. Small children want to see what we’re doing – up close. School groups ask endless good questions. It can be stressful.

It’s all a matter of attitude. The “best” attitude is that of a teacher who thinks that botanical art is the most fascinating subject in the world (which, of course, it is). You have to accept the obvious that there is no way that you’ll have the time to paint an entire watercolor. Maybe you can do a little work on one to show how laboriously slow it is. But do not expect to finish it. It is better to bring examples of your sketches, notes, drawings, tracings — whatever led up to the final artwork (which is shown on the wall behind us).

Instead of painting, your time will be taken up with talking to people: explaining how important it is to really “see” the plant, to understand how it grows and reproduces, to show aspects of the plant that photography cannot capture. You can possibly show how artists create form, a feeling of three dimensions. You might briefly touch on the long history of botanical art going back to the Egyptians. You must, however, talk in “sound bites.” Every sentence has to be a headline. And don’t be riled if your audience drifts away. Don’t expect to hold their attention.

You are there to rouse interest that might find an outlet at another time. Who knows? Your audience might someday take a botanical art class. They might become avid painters of wild flowers. They might even buy one of your botanical watercolors. But it’s not going to happen during the demonstration. So relax. Enjoy yourself. Stay calm and carry on.

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Jennifer, how do you use drawing in your classroom today?

: Thanks to my dissertation, I developed a course in Biological Illustration. As far as I’m aware, it’s the only one of its kind because it’s a biology class. We cover diversity and anatomy of plants, fungi and animals, how to identify groups or species, and linking form to function.

From my experience, illustration is a great way to teach comparative anatomy, evidence-based thinking, and of course, observational skills.

The course has been a huge success – we recently doubled the class size and the students have now exhibited their work at a state museum and aquarium. Check out student work here and here.

Readers, do you have questions for Jennifer about using drawing in your classroom or program?

Ask your questions today

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