Art & Literature in Nature
pARTners wants to thank and acknowledge the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund for supporting the 43rd annual “Art & Literature in Nature” program that occurred March 12-16th, 2018 in Sinks Canyon State Park, located outside of Lander Wyoming. “Art & Lit” was sponsored in collaboration with Teton County School District #1 (Jackson Hole High School) and Exum Mountain Guides, with artistic and financial support from pARTners and the Wyoming Cultural Trust. 45 high school aged students and 7 adults spent 5 days in the Popo Agie campground and surrounding areas, with a final day working collaboratively with students at the Wind River Indian reservation.
“Art & Lit” was originally founded in 1975, with a central focus of engaging students in artistic and written expression in a natural setting. Teachers at JHHS wanted students to connect with their environment through literature, outdoor recreation, and art. This creative endeavor was considered another way to support the academic, social, and personal growth of students.
“This project is so vital to our school’s cultural climate because it requires students to work together and creatively reflect on the positive and challenging aspects in their lives”, says Jim Rooks, Art and Lit Coordinator.
The culminating activity was JHHS students visiting the Wind River Reservation. This opportunity gave students a chance to give back and connect with another culture. An 11th-grade student Alexis McReynolds shared the following about the impact Art & Lit has had on her life:
“I have been attending Art & Lit for the past three years, ever since I was a freshman. Art & Lit is the highlight of my school year, mainly because I get the chance to be totally creative. This year’s Art & Lit was the best ever. The Sinks Canyon areas were beautiful, the art and literature instruction was truly awesome, and the people were the best. My favorite part was the culminating activity when we visiting the gravesite of Sacagawea with the Wind River students. I sat down at the base of the sculpture of Sacagawea, holding her infant son, with the Wind River Mountains forming the western horizon. I journaled about the strength and courage of this extraordinary woman. Art & Lit hasn’t just helped me to be a better artist and student, but also a better friend, and a better person.”
This year, the Art and Literature in Nature program continued to give students the chance to collaborate with professional artists and writer on daily themes, including reflection, change, connection, community, and sustainability. While in the field, students explored concepts related to photography, music, sculpture, landscape painting/sketching and nature-based reading and writing. Each student was gifted a sketch journal, a set of watercolors and drawing pen/pencil set as tools to interact with the environment and reflect on their experience. At the end of each day, the students gathered around the campfire and shared out their daily learnings with their peers and instructors. Beyond the personal expression of students, the entire team came together to create a 6’ x 14’ mural on canvas as well. In addition, to arts education portion of the project, students had an opportunity to hike and learn basic climbing and orienteering skills with Exum guides. Thanks again to the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund for funding such an impactful creative program for the students of Teton County.
–Ruth Moran, Executive Director