Student Art Show

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Blending Science & Art

On the evening of May 18th, Mission Wild Bird was transformed into an art gallery for an exhibition event by an extremely talented group of local artists. As always the theme of the evening was “Birds in the Keys,” but Monday night’s event had a slight twist that made this showing extra special. The visiting artists were the second grade students of Plantation Key School of Tavernier, Florida. Paintings of ospreys, woodpeckers, egrets, owls, and just about every bird that you can imagine that lives in the Keys filled the Exploration Wing of MWB, and they were all fantastic renditions. My colleagues and I agreed that each painting far surpassed our own artistic abilities (by no means an exaggeration).

The budding artists began this project with a visit to the Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary to drum up inspiration, and to learn more about the Bird Center and our birds. After their field trip the students met with local artist Katie Meroni, who helped to mentor the students on the finer techniques of painting. As a second component of the project, students also researched the birds that they were painting in order to gain a much deeper understanding of their subjects.

In my experience in working with groups of students as well as the general public I’ve come to find that in many cases people like to think of themselves as being either right-brained (artistic/holistic) or left-brained (mathematical/logical). While the majority of us can justifiably self-classify ourselves as being right or left-brained, I fear that this leads to the creation of another concept; the idea that thinking artistically and thinking science are mutually exclusive. In reality it’s pretty easy to notice that art and science both rely on one another in our everyday lives, especially when studying the natural world. Whether we’re discussing the works of Leonardo da Vinci or the students of Plantation Key School, it’s important to remember that art and science are in fact interdependent and evolve together. For centuries humans were inspired by birds because of their ability to fly. The Wright brothers are famously credited for taking humanity’s first manned flight, and less than a century later we were able to fly our species to the moon. Personally speaking, the most memorable moments of Monday’s event came in the conversation that I had with the students and seeing how proud they were of their own work; authentic contributions to the scientific/artistic community. What does that mean for the artists from PKS? I have no idea, but I’m excited to see what the future holds for them.

Ian Martin, Education Coordinator, 2015

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