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Photo: of Marie Lorenz by San Suzie, C-Monster Website by Carolina A. Miranda

My belief is that uncertainty brings about a heightened awareness of place. When we feel unstable we see more (Marie Lorenz, Artist Statement, MoMA Studio Visit)

Marie Lorenz is an artist who carries people in her water taxi to explore shorelines, tides and currents. She is a waterborne artist offering people the opportunity to float along the shores of New York in a wooden row boat that maneuvers through overlapping realties. Her art is concerned with observation, collection, and navigation. It is about physically entering the environment, being in relationship to oneself, and responding simultaneously to urban and nature based habitats.

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Photos: Row Boot and Roots (Artist Marie Lorenz, Tide and Current Taxi Project)

Article: “All the Fun of the Fair” by Julie Belcove, The Financial Times, Saturday, May 3, 2014

Her water taxi has become a performative art work, a way to meet people and transport them to new places. The view from the water allows the imagination to wander, it is a moving encounter with skylines and shorelines. It is foremost a time out, a launching into a different kind of space that encourages reverie and suspended action.

In 2012 Marie Lorenz led boat trips to discover derelict pieces of materials floating and gathering along shorelines. Her tours were a discovery of “wrecked things or places left to waste” (www.tideandcurrents.org). A search for nature littered with debris, a connection between what pollutes, and what has become polluted. A situation made by currents and tides collecting and bringing together opposing realties, a layering of what has been lost, discarded and outcast.

When the water rises during a storm and pulls objects into the harbour, the tide acts like a giant centrifuge, reorganizing things according to their shape and density. I collect and record the objects as another way to collaborate with the tide. I want to preserve the mystery of each discovery, like beachcombing, or finding a hidden treasure (Marie Lorenz, Artist Statement, http://www.marielorenz.com).

Working along the margins of different realities is a vital aspect of art therapy. A searching for what has been thrown away (or what has floated adrift) within the currents that compose a life. Art therapy collects partial objects and unbinds situations where there are layers of unwanted things. It is a means of sorting and identifying the value of what has been entangled in the ebb and flow of time.

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Photo: New York Today: An Island of Art, New York Times City Room Blog

References

Tide and Current Taxi http://www.tideandcurrenttaxi.org

Marie Lorenz http://www.marielorenz.com

 

 

 

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An empathy with the natural world can become a vital part of children’s psyches; they will learn to take nothing for granted, and will continually probe and ponder. They will have a sense of wonder and mystery about the world around them; it will become a vibrant part of their consciousness…In short, they will feel committed and responsible for the world in which they have been placed as caretakers for a brief moment of time (Paddy Madden, Go Wild at School).

By cultivating gardens as art installations, children are producing habitats which combine aesthetic and sensory experiences. Working with nature, landscapes, and living art materials (foraged branches, stems, clay, flowers, seaweed, etc.) offers children the opportunity to become foraging artists, as they collect and harvest their own art materials. Making their own landmarks, dens, and shelters, supplies children with an escape route for a welcomed ‘time out’ from daily life. The emotional fulfillment and solace gained from  making their own environments, supports well being and has a restorative effect.

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Community gardens can also offer a way for children to enact community activism. Guerrilla gardening (creating gardens within neglected or forgotten pieces of land in urban areas) can be a source of pride and a link to working with adults in a collaborative way. Intergenerational guerrilla gardening is a way to collectively envision social change, while also learning about gardening and how to work as a team. Guerrilla gardening offers children a conceptual understanding of the world at large, a way of developing analytical skills and strategies for community involvement.

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The Children and Nature Network (www.childrenandnature.org) compiles international research supporting the educational and health benefits related to children’s contact with nature.

The following is a summary of some of these research findings.

1.  Nature enhances children’s skills in the following areas –

Problem Solving, Teamwork, Experimentation, Decision-Making, Adaptability, Confidence, Enhanced Communication, Sensory Development, Intellectual Stimulation (Carol Duffy, Childhood Specialist, Ireland)

2. Recent research proposes that exposure to the outdoors reduces anxiety, and enhances learning. (Dr. Dorothy Matthews, American Society for Microbiology)

3. “A den (made from natural materials) is the child’s sense of self being born, a chance to create a home away from home that becomes a manifestation of who they are. The den is the chrysalis out of which the butterfly is born.” (David Sobel, Antioch New England Graduate School)

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4. “By bolstering children’s attention resources, green spaces may enable children to think more clearly and cope more effectively with life stress”. Engagement with natural settings has been linked to a child’s ability to focus, and enhances cognitive abilities. Nearby nature is a buffer for anxiety and adversity in children. (Dr Nancy Wells, Cornell University, New York)

5. The outdoor environment enhances the understanding of social relationships, language, physical movement, reasoning, curiosity, and the capacity to imagine possibilities. (Jane Williams-Siegfredsen, Viborg University College, Denmark)

6. Fostering children’s identity to include personal and social relationships to nature, improves their empathy and sense of inter-connection with the world-at-large. (Anita Barrows, Clinical Psychologist, Berkeley, California)

7. Nature can activate sensory, emotional, cognitive, symbolic and creative levels of human experience through de-familiarisation. Taken for granted everyday things, are sensitively given new meaning and enhance a child’s capacity to perceive. (Jan Van Boeckel, Research Fellow Aalto University Helsinki, Anthropologist, Filmmaker)

8. “Involuntary attention, as opposed to directed attention, can be cultivated within nature”. The “soft fascination” of the natural world can restore focussed attention required for directed studies. Involuntary attention is achieved without effort by simply observing what captures our attention. Our mind wanders and takes a rest from concentrated effort, which in turn improves learning. (Marc Berman, Brain Scientist, University of Michigan)

References

Paddy Madden, Go Wild at School

Children and Nature Network childrenandnature.org

Nature Art Education http://www.naturearteducation.org

Wild by Nature

March 5, 2013

I needed to do something that would renew my spirit and give me a sense of peace and optimism. That’s when I created this garden. What continually amazes me is how something so simple as this garden has stimulated so many wonderful conversations with the people in my community (Vancouver, Green Streets Volunteer).

Art therapy can be cultivated within the common lands of community life. These might include community gardens, playgrounds, parks and schools. A boulevard might also be a place to cultivate food or flowers, leave symbolic objects, decorate trees, leave notes, and assert your identity. A front garden and green spaces lining sidewalks can be personalized with guerrilla art, homemade crafts, and free food stalls.

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The Healing Fields: Working with Psychotherapy and Nature to Rebuild Shattered Lives by Sonja Linden and Jenny Grut describes how cycles of the natural world, and metaphors for gardening have rich psychological associations. For example –

Transplanting, Blossoming, Digging Deep, Grounded, Putting Down Roots, Cutting Back, Branching Out, Shedding, Weeding Out, etc.

Art therapy is largely an indoor activity that takes place behind closed doors. It is enclosed within a potentially claustrophobic space. Using the outdoor landscape as an art therapy studio liberates the senses. Participants are confronted with the ever changing conditions of weather, noise, seasonal materials, and varying temperatures.

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Neighborhoods can be a series of interactive gardens, whereby householders create sidewalk galleries. In Vancouver, Green Streets neighbourhoods encourage idiosyncratic displays of community spirit at street level. Domestic decorations inhabit urban walkways. Front lawns can be places to grow food gardens and scenes for the imagination. The unpredictable display of the personal within public streets, either through unique gardening styles or through shrine like arrangements of offerings, is invigorating to both mind and body.

The aim of art is not simply to communicate something that has already been formulated, but to create something unexpected.

One of art’s attractions is that it constantly finds new ways of pushing forward into a territory that feels quite strange and yet shockingly familiar.

(Psychological Aesthetics: Painting, Feeling and Making Sense by David Maclagan)

Fritz Haeg is commissioned by cultural institutions to dig up grass and install vegetable gardens within suburban front lawns. These gardens become educational and conversational sites for neighbors and walkers. The front lawn is the canvas, a gallery of vegetables in front of the house. Working the garden is public, and interactive, the potential to share produce and ideas within a community context.

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A garden is a work in progress, an art assemblage, a zone of shared imaginative experience. The ambiguous territories of sidewalk boulevards, playgrounds and parks offer spaces for processing, and connecting with a variety of people and activities. We move through collective community spaces and respond to different happenings along the way.

References

The Healing Fields: Working with Psychotherapy and Nature to Rebuild Shattered Lives by Sonja Linden and Jenny Grut

Fritz Haeg http://www.fritzhaeg.com

Fritz Haeg Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn

City of Vancouver Green Streets Program 

David Maclagan Psychological Aesthetics: Painting, Feeling and Making Sense

Anthony Elliott Subject to Ourselves: Social Theory, Psychoanalysis and Postmodernity

Photos

Davie Village Community Garden, Vancouver