“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.”
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.”
“There’s so much of everything! All of it inextricably tangled together […] To describe is to select – and to select only a microscopic sample from this overwhelming profusion.”
So wrote travel journalist Michael Frayan in Travels with a Typewriter, one of several books I read during my month-long research trip to East Africa. Frayan distills into two sentences the opportunity, challenges, and complexity of traveling to conduct research, particularly in a new field site.
As I mentioned in my previous update, this was my first trip to Africa. In addition to a mélange of language, landscapes, and villages/cities, the region struck me with its boggling biodiversity, and a host of socio-political situations that resist categorization or outsider resolution. I spent much of the trip mulling over my own reactions to what is ordinary life there, and pondering how to honestly incorporate it in my project without oversimplifying, romanticizing, or otherwise inadvertently appropriating.
As part of my MFA thesis, I’m working on an art-science project about tortoises and hares and the ecosystems where the two coexist: “The Ecologically True Story of the Tortoise and the Hare.” One of those places just happens to be the Sonoran Desert, just south of where my husband grew up. So, while we were in Arizona over the holidays, I headed to that tortoise-and-hare desert.
I’m a co-founder of the Ecological Society of America’s new Science Communication Section (#ESASciComm), so I am in a great position to infuse #sciart into #scicomm at ESA. I’ve done so with pleasure in scicomm workshops the past two years.
This year, at ESA’s annual conference/meeting (#ESA100) our section had a booth at which we encouraged folks to sketch their science.
We were blown away by how many people enthusiastically did so.