“Science + Art” by Esther Rogers
A Reflection on her Residency
You’ll probably remember Esther from her recent Featured Teacher interview.? As?an avid performance artist as well as educator, Esther is constantly collaborating with?creative professionals?of diverse disciplines to create innovative and expressive works.? Today, she shares a recent experience of hers at the AldoandLeonardo Collaboration and the insight it lent her.
Has the educational board considered cancelling chemistry or biology before cancelling orchestra?
How many times has a student been pulled out of music class for tutoring in math?
has a young musician been told outright that being an artist will not pay the bills?
It is a current hot topic that science and math are valued higher than music, art, dance, and theatre. As a musician and arts educator, I am constantly bombarded with artistic ignorance and obvious prioritization towards certain characteristic intelligence. Until recently, I assumed that scientists were some of the perpetrators of this inequality; this out-of-balance emphasis on numbers and data over creativity. This autumn, however, I was given a different look at science, scientists, and the arts.
During September, I was an artist in residence for the AldoandLeonardo Wilderness project based in Southwest Colorado. I lived on-site at the Anasazi Heritage Museum and the Bureau of Land Management working alongside a painter, sculptor, and a team of wilderness-study scientists in the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument.? As part of a team that included archeologists, geologists, biologists, museum curators, and wildlife specialists, we were invited to develop artistic work to bring awareness to land conservation and wilderness science, as well as to develop our own creativity and understanding of wilderness issues through dialogue and on the ground work.
During my stay, I participated in a reptile survey, photogrammetry of ancient rock art, community educational events, hikes, and many conversations with government employees working to manage federal land. As artists, we were asked what we thought about issues, how wilderness might be better presented to the public, and invited to become a member of the community responsible for the conservation of historic internationally valuable land sites. It was an incredible feeling to be valued as an artist equally alongside experienced land professionals. Each of the artists had separate interviews on the radio, gave presentations of our past and current work, and spent time creating new works of art based on our experiences.
It was very apparent to me in discussing wilderness management at the AldoandLeonardo residency, and seeing the results of the work done in the additional five biomes/government agencies in addition to my specific project, that creative thinking and integration of individuals from all disciplines is necessary to maintain the integrity of the archeological, natural and humanitarian values of federal land. Wilderness science is not able to be best represented and applied to its fullest potential alone, but its efforts are multiplied by the professional and voluntary input of the larger national community.
As I look again at my work in Rochester as a teacher and artist, I cannot find fault in the projected value of science, technology, math, and biology; however, I am more concretely confident that creativity, artistic discipline, and pursuit of the arts are in no way less important than these to the preservation of our national values and community interests.
Esther Rogers is a Rochester-based cellist, artistic?collaborator, and educator.? Her latest endeavors can be found at http://erogerscello.com/.
For additional perspective on the AldoandLeonardo Collaboration,?visit their blog at http://www.aldoandleonardo.blogspot.com/.