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Environmental Awareness Through Art

Preserving the EcoPark System with Art

environmental awarenessIn the past, many artists have used their art to promote conservation of the environment or to create awareness of ecological concerns by documenting environmental destruction. Hamilton District Christian High youth feel strongly that it is the role of the artist to preserve the beauty of nature around us, through artwork, in order to show the Hamilton public some of the areas that need to be protected.

Creating art is an opportunity to capture images of beauty in an effort to reconnect people to their local environment. This is an opportunity that we can be part of, as Christian stewards of creation.

Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark
In the Hamilton area, we have an enormous conservation project called the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark. When representatives from the EcoPark heard about an ambitious HDCH eco-art project in the Dundas Valley, they were eager to work with students too. This was an amazing opportunity for the grade eleven drawing and painting class. The first step was to get the students connected to the EcoPark in a meaningful way.

On a Friday in September, we went for a guided hike with an ecologist to understand why the EcoPark is so important. We spent the day learning about species of fish and plants, removing invasive plants, and taking reference pictures for our project.

RE-create Outreach Art Studio
As the project started to gain momentum, we invited youth from RE-create Outreach Art Studio to participate with us to create a city-wide art competition to promote awareness of the EcoPark. Youth from Hamilton District Christian High and RE-create have collaborated on projects for a number of years now, and the subject of the environment is not new to them. This is the first time, however, that we are working with an environmental organization to share the beauty of nature in the Hamilton area through art.

How can we use art to help preserve the EcoPark System?
The youth involved with this project were presented with the driving question, “How can we use art to help preserve the EcoPark System?” We have come to understand that Hamilton exists in a unique location from an ecological standpoint, and there are many vulnerable plant and animal species that need to be studied and protected.  The youth feel strongly that it is the role of the artist to preserve the beauty of nature around us, through artwork, in order to show the Hamilton public some of the areas that need to be protected.

The task of raising environmental awareness through art is not one that we want to keep to ourselves. It is for this reason that we invited other youth artists to submit a 2D artwork based on scenery from the EcoPark to our very first Eco-Art Competition.

Finalists had their work exhibited at 541 Eatery and Exchange this past February, and the winners of the competition had their work exhibited in the Royal Botanical Gardens building this past June.

This has been an amazing partnership between HDCH art students and community organizations for a common cause.

Jonathan DeVries
Art Educator