The Land and Environmental Art class at the Island School is different from most other art classes. It provides a unique and wholly necessary means by which our students forge a connection to place. This theme of place-based learning that courses through the curriculum here on Eleuthera is essential to instilling passion in each of our students. Learning about the place you live in means becoming intimate with that place, and intimacy implies a sense of caring and responsibility. Developing that relationship happens naturally alongside the way we live here: navy showers, recycling everything and anything, using our food scraps to feed the pigs and chickens, etc. After one hundred days of paying close attention to the “stuff” that surrounds us and to the way it affects our home and our environment, students’ discover that their connection to place is in fact that they are part of a place.
There are four main projects that our students tackle over the course of a semester. First, a photography project in which they create a narrative that is personal to them. Second, a site specific sculpture which allows them to see beauty in objects and spaces that occur naturally. Third, a scientific illustration project that gives the students an opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the life forms that are studied at the Cape Eleuthera Institute. Finally, the students are assigned an open-ended project that involves their medium of choice and their passions here on Eleuthera that they feel need more attention. This final project is assigned at a point in the semester when our students have grown to exercise their independence, confidence, and self-reliance, all within the space of the community.
On Wednesday, each student was asked to collect a long list of different types of photos. For example:
- Take a picture of something human-made you believe to be at least twice as old as you are.
- Take a photo that exemplifies texture.
- Take a picture in which hands are the main subject.
Just three of many photo requests, these assignments led our creative young students to look at the world from a number of different angles, from different perspectives. And that’s what a semester program like this is all about: changing perspectives. Stay tuned for future student projects posted here!