Teachers can provide young children with a range of gorgeous natural materials for ephemeral art making. Ephemeral art can provide opportunities for teachers to talk to children about the aesthetic qualities of the materials they are using, as well as discussing design and patterning.
Inherent in this type af art making activity is respect for natural materials and children learn about the important place they have in the environment.
The video shows some examples of children's ephemeral art making in both the inside and outside environment.
Thinking about sustainable visual art practices in ECE settings
Encouraging sustainable practices in early childhood is becoming more and more important but do teachers often consider sustainable practices in relation to specific curriculum areas, for example in the visual arts?
Encouraging children to use natural materials is an important aspect of an arts programme in Aotearoa but sadly beautiful materials are often wasted due to teachers not thinking carefully enough about how to encourage children to use them judiciously, or providing children with the appropriate materials for their work. For example soggy, glue-laden pieces of newsprint paper with natural collage materials stuck on it are most likely to end up in the bin rather than displayed proudly on a wall.
One way to use natural materials sustainably is to think about them as materials that can be used for ephemeral art making (ephemeral means short-lived or fleeting so ephemeral art is not permanent and its existence is often dependent on the effects of time and the weather). Beach sculpture is something that most of us have done at some point in our lives and this type of work is ephemeral as the materials usually get washed away pretty quickly. The only way to capture ephemeral art is to photograph it!
Another form of art using natural materials is Environmental Art. This type of art deals with ecological issues and/or the natural environment by:
i) Raising awareness of the fragility of nature (includes landscape-based photography, painting, drawing, and site-specific art)
ii) Investigating natural phenomena
iii) Using natural materials gathered outdoors (such as twigs, leaves, stones, soil, feathers)
iv) Not contributing to environmental degradation and this includes ‘green’ work made from bio-degradable or recycled materials, and ‘Eco sculpture’ which is sensitively integrated into a natural habitat).
These types of art making are possible and desirable in an early childhood setting and they provide children with rich visual art and aesthetic experiences that involve respectful relationships to natural materials and the environment.
The video shows some examples of my own ephemeral work using materials at the beach and also in the countryside.
This blog has been established to share information, research and ideas about quality visual art education for young children in early childhood settings.
As a university lecturer and professional development facilitator in visual art education I often come across interesting research and examples of good visual arts practice which I believe need to be shared with others interested in young children's education.
Some of the information on this site has been developed by me but the site also provides an opportunity for early childhood teachers to showcase examples of their work with children in the visual arts. Some of the topics include:
The Wheke Project at Lyall Bay kindergarten
100 Languages of Children
Artists in Residence TRCC conference April 2008
ecARTnz - a journal of professional practice
The lost streams of Wellington - a place based art project
Aotearoa Arts for Peace
Young children creating ephemeral art
Sustainable art practices in early childhood
6th International Art in Early Childhood conference 2015 (Hong Kong)