The world may be their oyster, but Columbus really is for a group of lucky high-school juniors and seniors who get to take our Art & Environment course.
A&E—a free, semester-long class for high-school credit, meeting weekly—uses sites around the city and beyond for a large part of its eco-art curriculum. The program includes field trips to such locales as the landfill in Grove City, Ohio State’s Byrd Polar Research Center, Stratford Ecological Center in Delaware, the Ohio State Wetlands, and AEP’s Mountaineer Power Plant in West Virginia; reading lists that include such titles as Margaret Atwood’s novel Oryx and Crake and the textbook WorldChanging; visiting artists from around Columbus and the country; and guest scientists from across town. One student discussion with a New York-based artist, who addresses the effects of climate change in her outdoor pieces, involved weighing the ecological benefits of education against the carbon costs of flying to Columbus.
These students get to experience all of that. And this year for the first time, one even luckier student will receive a commission to create a new public art project at the Grange Insurance Audubon Center, a lush and peaceful park along the Scioto River where egret and heron sightings are common, despite the location near downtown (and despite that area’s industrial past, previously best known for its impound lot).
Here’s how this student art commission works—and how you can participate. All of this year’s students, who hail from a variety of schools around town, will create an artwork that will be on view in an exhibition at the Wex the last half of December. During that time, donors who have given $1 or more to our power2give campaign (going on now) can cast a vote (in person or online) for their favorite work among the students competing for the commission. The student artist whose work receives the most votes will get the commission, which involves working with an artist-mentor over the subsequent months to design and create a work for the Audubon Center, to be unveiled in May and on view for two years.
It’s an extraordinary professional-level opportunity for a local teen, growing out of an established program that not only connects the arts to the sciences for young people but makes those connections outside the classroom—and primarily outside the museum walls. But don’t take it from us. Hear it from the students in the videos below. And please consider donating $1 or more to support the student art commission at Audubon via power2give; all the benefits of giving are listed in the link. A bonus: Every dollar will be matched by Puffin Foundation West.