Explorations in the Practice of Eco-art: A Phenomenological Arts-informed Research Project
Master of Education
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This study investigated the genre of eco-art through a phenomenological arts-informed research project to augment current practices and inspire new art and art/science initiatives in schools and communities. Incorporating narrative inquiry and photography, the researcher engaged in an eco-art practice over a two-year period on a Lake Superior shoreline. The work produced took the form of ephemeral paintings done with clay on rocks, both materials found at the site. The intent of the project was twofold: to develop a practice consistent with particular environmental values and to inform eco-art pedagogy by critically considering the qualities of an eco-art practice and how they fit in an educational setting. What themes emerge for eco-art pedagogy from the study and experience of an eco-art practice? What themes emerge from the study of the work of contemporary ecoartists? Key findings were: 1) the potency of place; 2) being alone; 3) the outdoor studio; 4) a sense of adventure; 5) ephemeral qualities and other aesthetic considerations; and 6) the role of art in ecological restoration. The stories of artists in the eco-art field also emerged as an essential resource that guided and supported the research. The insights gained from the project may resonate with educators from both art and environmental science backgrounds as ways to incorporate art making as an engaging process that supports our journey towards sustainability and atonement.