Last school year, my daughter attended a very unique program offered by Emily van Lidth de Jeude. It is called Wild Art.
I really had no idea what Emily had planned for the course, but I know Emily personally and trusted that she would do something adventurous, fun and respectful to the needs and desires of her students. I thought the kids would be drawing and painting in the woods, but what occurred in the program was a unique expression of what the kids wanted to explore. The 2014 group wrote, directed, acted and created costumes for a play about belonging. There was a lot of discussion about social dynamics, monetary systems and community, which was played out in various impromptu games, such as the ever-popular mushroom-economy, as well as in some of the art projects. The fall and spring brought focused interest in wild foods as played out in the daily picking and brewing of fresh forest tea. The kids explored gardening by raising seeds that had literally been to space and back. The group hand-wrote a letter to the Tomatosphere people, who loved their letter so much that they read it at their big symposium!
Additionally, the students raised and studied tadpoles, and made great use of a microscope for looking at pond-life.
The program runs about 3 hours long once a week and offers an exploration of art, science and nature in Emily’s studio and outside in the wilderness that surrounds her home. Through conversation, participants explore social and ecological topics. Process, engagement and authenticity are definitely more important than outcome.
Each week, my daughter Franny came home with a huge smile on her face, flushed cheeks and bursting with the news of what she did that afternoon. What more can a parent want for their child? My child was so fulfilled by her time in Wild Art, she has developed a confidence in herself and a love and knowledge of nature that was previously not there. Her most repeated comment to me about the course was how amazing it was that the kids got to decide what to explore and study each class.
I’m very excited about Emily’s Wild Art Spring program on Wednesdays and a Wild Art Intensive: Fire, Water, Air and Earth for four Saturdays in May. The latter being offered for 9 year olds- adults. Bring your rain boots and come explore some Wild Art of your own!
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