Article: Creative convergence: exploring biocultural diversity through art

I had the great honor of collaborating with my friend Dr. Jean Polfus and her Sahtu Dene community collaborators on this publication. In it, we detail how art can be used as an inclusive, innovative research method for ecological research.

The article is available via open-access (for free) at the Ecology and Society website.

Screenshot of a figure from the paper. The paper is available for free to download/view here.

Meanwhile, here’s a sample of what you might find useful:

Excerpts from the article abstract (aka summary):

“Interdisciplinary approaches are necessary for exploring the complex research questions that stem from interdependence in social-ecological systems […] Identifying biocultural diversity requires a flexible, creative, and collaborative approach to research. We demonstrate how visual art can be used in combination with scientific and social science methods to examine the biocultural landscape of the Sahtú region of the Northwest Territories, Canada. Specifically, we focus on the intersection of Dene cultural diversity and caribou (Rangifer tarandus) intraspecific variation. We developed original illustrations, diagrams, and other visual aids to increase the effectiveness of communication, improve the organization of research results, and promote intellectual creativity […]Collaborative visual products, like posters that represented different caribou types, allowed Dene partners to more clearly articulate subtleties within caribou intraspecific variation that are manifest through distinct dialects, place-based relationships, and cultural practices. Our results point to the potential for visual art to be used to improve communication, participation, and knowledge production in interdisciplinary and cross-cultural research collaborations and to enhance the sustainable stewardship and protection of biodiversity.

Full citation: Polfus, J. L., D. Simmons, M. Neyelle, W. Bayha, F. Andrew, L. Andrew, B. G. Merkle, K. Rice, and M. Manseau. 2017. Creative convergence: exploring biocultural diversity through art. Ecology and Society 22(2): 4-17.
https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-08711-220204

Sketchbook Snapshot: illustrating tortoises and hares

“Too much importance cannot be given to drawing, as it is not only an excellent device for securing close observation, but it is also a rapid method of making valuable notes.”

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Inspired by Louis Agassiz, the Harvard Committee of Ten insisted that drawing be an essential part of science education at their institution. While this curricular edict was issued in 1894, it is a learning and research recommendation whose value I rediscover every time I work on the “Ecologically True Story of the Tortoise and the Hare.”

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Right now, I am chipping away at storyboards and draft text for version of the story which will be exhibited at the University of Wyoming Biodiversity Institute in Spring 2017. Continue reading Sketchbook Snapshot: illustrating tortoises and hares

Artful Science: Creativity Research

There’s a lot of research into creativity and critical thinking.

What’s particularly relevant are studies looking at how arts integration can influence, and often enhance, both creativity and critical thinking beyond the arts.

Below, I’ve quoted four articles that speak to this point, but there are many others. Get in touch for more! Continue reading Artful Science: Creativity Research

September 2016 Newsletter: Making Connections through SciArt

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I spent much of the summer contributing to/planning two summer teaching institutes at the University of Wyoming, working on an art-as-science research manuscript with some great collaborators in Canada’s Northwest Territories, and crafting some illustrations of native bees for a science ed/outreach initiative based in North Carolina. And most recently, I helped facilitate UW’s first ever SciArt Symposium, which was a fascinating blend of both fields.

Through it all, I’ve been thinking about my genuine interest in being a catalyst and idea-sharer, helping others access the pleasure and productive aspects of art-science integration.

And so, this month’s newsletter focuses on some of the ideas and info I’ve encountered and shared this summer, with an eye toward connecting you to others’ ideas.

Happy sketching!

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September Table of Contents

  • Sketching Tip: Sketching at zoos and aquariums (guest tip!)
  • Artful Science: Stardom – Women in science and the arts
  • Artful Classrooms: Drawing in the Classroom – Ideas in practice
  • Sketchbook Snapshot: Experimenting through repetition
  • News & Events:
    • Illustrated greeting cards for staying in touch this summer
    • University of Wyoming Natural History Class – student workshop
    • Bee Germs illustrations are live!
    • University of Wyoming SciArt Symposium follow-up

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August 2016 Newsletter: Taste of Summer

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August Table of Contents

  • Sketching Tip: Shading with color
  • Artful Science: Summer in a Glass
  • Artful Classrooms: Tasty Osmosis
  • Sketchbook Snapshot: Homegrown sketches
  • News & Events:
    • Illustrated greeting cards for staying in touch this summer
    • University of Wyoming SciArt Symposium
    • National Park Service/UW residency outcomes

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