Is Nature Art? Depends on how you look at it…

With Fall Break a full month behind us, and Thanksgiving break right around the corner, please take a moment to sit with season before winter moves in. The chill in the air has us hurrying to class, trying to stay warm, but campus is especially beautiful in the fall. The trees sway in the wind, erupting in brilliant oranges, reds, and yellows. Vigilant evergreens stand out, contrasting against the sunset colored leaves that let loose with each passing wind.

IS nature art? That’s a question I tried to answer with a story last week that ultimately fell short in doing so. While I’ve decided I’m not qualified to answer it on my own, I turned to the campus to bring the discussion to you.


Speaking with other students led me to hear about Maia Dery’s “Reflecting Nature” class. While I attempted to reach her, by press time she had not yet responded. However, her final project for her students is to create a structure merely out of objects from nature. One such project is being erected in the woods by a student named Kai. This, along with something Mark Dixon pointed out to me when trying to develop this story, “Our kilns are wood fired.” led me to think far beyond the aesthetic value of Fall and examine the relationship between art and nature much more closely and more abstractly. Not only are the trees dressed in breathtaking fall colors inspiration for many, but the fallen limbs cast aside by weather and time are actually part of the process too.

I knew this was not enough alone to support the idea that nature is art, so I went to the Fifth Juried Alumni Art Exhibition on display in the Library. I was stunned to see that of all the topics that could have been chosen for the pieces, nature was in the forefront of at least half the pieces, without even counting the items made of natural material like wooden handcrafted spoons and a hammered serving tray. From paintings of landscapes to a haunting photograph addressing climate change, to a ceramic cast of a seed taking growth (likely fired on the very same kilns) nature was both a subject and a material used to create art in an overwhelming number of the pieces. The first in the series of photos below struck me because of the wood both alive and harvested in a literal battle for space. These are just a sample of many more pieces, which I can’t recommend checking out enough!

IMG_0123 IMG_0120 IMG_0116IMG_0114

What do you think? To continue this conversation, here are a few events in the area to check out;

First, don’t miss the 5th Juried Alumni Art show, on display here at the Hege Library until December 7th. I mentioned just a few of the pieces in this conversation, so make sure to check out the rest!

Second, Deborah Squier has some beautiful landscape paintings on display at Ambleside Gallery  on 528 S. Elm St.

The artist statement included with the exhibit reads;

“What motivates my painting is a passionate love and respect for the natural order of things…the mystery of life in all its manifestations. Growing up in New England I was constantly immersed in nature. As the youngest of four children, I accompanied my father regularly on plein air painting outings. While he wrestled with the elements on canvas, I dove headfirst into them.

Thus began my love affair with the earth’s elements and I felt it in a personal and visceral way. This physical connection to the landscape was my apprenticeship and the real ground for the painting experience which I would take up later.

Nature is my most important Muse. I am her apprentice. I try to be present with all my senses. Somewhere between the direct experience and the unknowable mystery is the source of my inspiration.”

Last but not least, this week was the groundbreaking ceremony for a new park slated to open in 2016 downtown between the Public Library and the Greensboro Cultural Arts Center. The Carolyn and Maurice LeBauer Park is being created due to a $10 million dollar grant left in Carolyn’s honor.

“LeBauer Park will be a destination for people near and far to visit and enjoy recreational, cultural and educational events and activities together,” Mayor Nancy Vaughan said at the groundbreaking ceremony held yesterday. “That was [her] vision, and it’s a vision that becomes a reality for the city of Greensboro, starting with this groundbreaking.” While the park itself looks to be an exciting work of art, its features like an outdoor reading room, a dog park, and a performance pavilion are sure to bring community and art together. Below is a drawing the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro is using to promote the park.

Carolyn and Maurice LeBauer Park Drawing

Greensboro is a wonderful place to live, study, and create! If you know of any events or want to join in this conversation, please comment below!

1 response to Is Nature Art? Depends on how you look at it…

  1. Julie Dameron says:

    What a lovely reflection of art and how it evokes a sense of hope. Thank you for sharing that eternal strugle that goes on within and examining it. I will hurry to the Weatherspoon and GreenHill to see their show.

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