Exploring Connections between Art and Ecology

By Kate Seitz, Belwin Conservancy Communications Partner

In 2015 and 2016, Belwin joined nearly two dozen organizations in a series of conversations exploring connections between creativity and the environment in the St. Croix Valley.

The initiative, called Navigate, helped groups like Belwin, ArtReach St. Croix, area artists and chambers of commerce, create a shared vision for using our region’s rich resources to guide us through historic growth and predicted environmental change ahead.

Three years out from the Navigate experience, Belwin Program Director Susan Haugh is leading us through a new phase. We’re working to find meaningful ways to interact with the land and make space for art in the environment, two of the goals identified by Navigate participants.

At our February 16 Open House, we welcomed artist and teacher Kinji Akagawa as our guest speaker. Akagawa is known for his public art and printmaking. He spoke to the ability in each of us to integrate art and nature to enhance our quality of life.

Throughout 2019, Belwin will be expanding art and ecology programs, such as incorporating eco-arts during the Belwin Bison Festival on May 18, 2019. We’ll also hold our inaugural Music in the Trees event on August 17 and 18.

This event will take place each year as Belwin transitions a land site near the Education Center from plantation pine grove to native landscape. The music will come from natural sounds, reflect ecological changes at the site, mourn the loss of trees, and celebrate the land’s return to native habitat.

Together with the Navigate community, we are working to achieve our collective vision. We look forward to you joining us!

Navigating Change in the St. Croix Valley: Finding Power at the Confluence of Art and Nature (PDF)
From bluffs up and down the river, we can see where we’re going:

  • Inter-connected people and places
  • Artful ways to interact with the land
  • Space for art in the environment
  • Artists involved in community conversations
  • Solid science and diverse art practices
  • Powered by forces at the confluence of art and nature

Ripple Effects
We can each move downstream independently to reach our collective vision:

  • Celebrate and share the peace, beauty and complexity of nature
  • Seek inspiration from the restorative power of nature
  • Serve as stewards of how the St. Croix functions
  • Influence our communities to shape change
  • Create art that conveys our values to guide our future
  • Broaden the circle of change-makers
  • Be restored by the river
  • Create – practice art, write a haiku, make a canoe, plant a garden, make a difference

Our Resolve
To work at the intersection of arts and nature to shape change in our communities.

Read more about the Navigate retreats and goals.

Luminaria photo by Greg Seitz.