Environmental Art

The Environmental Art Department at the Schuylkill Center incites curiosity and sparks awareness of the natural environment through art, and works collaboratively to create exhibitions of the highest quality that attract, educate and inspire the public.

Created in 2000, the department complements the Schuylkill Centerís two mission-driven objectives: land preservation and environmental education. This unique interpretive program offers an alternative to both traditional art venues and formal methods of presenting environmental education to the public. The program challenges established and emerging artists to reflect on environmental issues; to consider the natural context in which the artwork is being created; and to explore working with new and non-traditional materials.

Through partnerships with other arts and educational organizations, environmental art at the Schuylkill Center also provides professional opportunities for artists, interpretive programs for the public and arts-in-education programs for students.

The art department collaborated with the education department to create our new Environmental Art Education classes for visiting school groups. Using art as a tool to understand nature, and nature as a framework to understand the elements of art, these classes offer a fun, innovative and effective paradigm for studying the natural world and visual language.

Looking ahead

Looking ahead, the department will broaden its scope of activity to include conservation. We are exploring an innovative art practice known as "ecovention" (a term coined by Amy Lipton and Sue Spaid as part of the 2002 exhibition), where artists collaborate with scientists to interact directly with the ecosystem. Projects such as habitat creation, remedial plantings, or water-control structures will expand the boundaries of traditional art and maintain the balance of our eco-system.

We are re-envisioning ourselves and have launched a special website to share and facilitate the process. Please visit it at: http://www.schuylkillcenter.org/art/.

The only one of its kind in Philadelphia, the Environmental Art Department presents its activities through two interrelated program areas:

  1. †The Exhibition program is the only art venue in the Philadelphia area which presents exclusively site-specific environmental installations. Artists create and install work on-site in an environmental context, directly informed and inspired by the surroundings.

    • Outdoor installations are created in two locations: On the Trails and Second Site: Brolo Hill Farm. Both locations invite artists to consider environmental issues and the physical characteristics of the land as they conceptualize their work, which is installed on the Center's public trails.

    • The Welcome Gallery, located in the main building just past the reception desk, is home to indoor exhibitions curated by the Schuylkill Center Art Department Director or by visiting curators or organizations. The Galleryís curatorial concepts explore and reflect on environmental themes that relate to local ecologies, or to the Schuylkill Center itself.   Four to five exhibits are presented each year and include works created in all media.  An exhibition statement accompanies the artwork and provides interpretive information about the exhibition and its connection to environmental issues.

  2. †The Schuylkill Centerís Artist-in-Residence Program supports art projects and activities that engage school groups and the community. Moving forward, we hope to focus these residencies on remedial or preservative work, likely done in collaboration with scientists and school groups.

You can learn more about environmental art by visiting our resources page

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