Cultivating Connections to Earth, Art & Activism
To regenerate means to bring into renewed existence, to replace that which is injured, and give it a new and more vigorous life.
Absorb yourself into Nature. Be still. Reconnect. Regenerations: Cultivating Connections to Earth, Art & Activism is an active investigation of our relationships to nature, community, creative expression and outreach through outdoor immersion, writing and visual art.
This five-part series collaboratively taught by visual artist Ivy Walker and writer Molly Murfee is based in all-day outdoor hiking experiences exploring the practices of stillness and noticing, journaling and brainstorming, and constructing temporal works of art in the landscape. Play with the inherent metaphor and symbolism found in Nature, sculpt with natural and introduced objects in the landscape, channel creative skills to express raw emotion, experiment with mixed media artmaking and word play.
Utilize these inspired activities in the visual and written arts as a medium and processing tool for: re-connecting with the natural world; identifying our individual and social spectrums of comfort and fear; learning about local issues affecting our environment; and finding positive resolution through creative expression and activism.
Each session revolves around a different topic and takes place in a different wilderness setting allowing participants to explore the depth of topics through being wholly engaged and immersed in the changing weather and elements of landscape.
Participants who choose have the opportunity to communicate their visual and written expressions developed throughout the sessions in a local open air, public art display at the culmination of the series. An additional opportunity further takes these expressions, or representations of them, and sends them out into the larger global community of legislatures, industry representatives and other relevant audiences as a positive change creative outreach.
What are the experiences like?
In the full five-part Regenerations series you experiment with writing and visual art, finding new ways to express your passion, purpose and persuasion. Make art with the landscape, using both introduced and natural materials to create conversation and statement in nature. Learn to free flow write without editing, discover cutting verbs, seamlessly incorporate facts. Wander among details, senses and metaphor. Write love letters to nature and motivating notes to politicians. Find inspiration in established nature writers and artist activists. Each session is a full-day hiking immersion to slow down, tap in, and allow the modern world to fall away.
In a typical session, participants walk into the backcountry a short to moderate distance to an established “camp” to conduct a variety of writing and art in the landscape exercises and discussions. Throughout the day, we move to a range of environments – perhaps a stream, a meadow, or a forest – to experiment with different techniques in visual art and writing in the landscape. With the exception of five-day backcountry overnight sessions, at the end of the day we hike out of the wilderness. The focus of each session is more on moving slowly, being still, and absorbing and processing in nature, rather than logging excessive miles or having a goal-oriented excursion such as climbing a peak or completing a loop.
Each session includes backcountry hiking; writing, visual arts and meditation exercises; journaling and discussion.
Connecting in Nature: Stillness & Noticing
Slow down. Tap in. And allow the modern world to fall away. Through silence, stillness and observation, reconnect to the deep resource of Nature. Process what you find there through imaginative visual and written art exercises that allow your senses and the floodgates of creativity to open, exploring complexity within the simple.
Nature as Healer: Finding the Regenerative Creative Resource
Identify your personal “Nature as source” through investigating concepts of beauty, solace and appreciation. How does Nature support you? What does it have to teach you? Notice how Nature arrives to relationship with you. Celebrate these sources through art and words that recognize and honor place.
Nature & Despair: Accompanying & Transforming Grief
Acknowledge the difficulty of despair that is a part of being awake to these turbulent times and destruction of the environment. Explore how to creatively honor the wisdom of grief that can propel the hero’s and heroine’s journey forward towards empowerment and positive action. Learn how to process and express these raw emotions through land + art sculpture projects and powerful yet organized writing.
Creative Voice in Nature: Activating Your Expression
Explore how Nature can intersect with and support your creative vision. Ponder the concept of expression, how it moves through you and what you feel compelled to express while in collaboration with the natural world. What do you want to say about your relationship to Nature? Your joy or despair in it? How do you take these concepts and translate them?
Creativity & Nature Activism: Inspiration, Approaches & Actions
Investigate historical and contemporary approaches for creatively engaged activism within the visual and written arts. Experiment with expressing your creative vision that incorporates your connection to Nature and playful activism as a way to shift culture towards a more compassionate, sustainable relationship with the Earth.
Expressions: An Open Air Art Show
Participants who choose have the opportunity to display their visual and written expressions developed throughout the sessions in an outdoor public art gallery in an easily accessed wilderness location. During Expressions: An Open Air Art Show the community may wander amongst the projects inciting discussion with the artist participants and each other.
Course format options:
Complete session series in a five to six-day retreat with wilderness hikes, lunch and activities in the backcountry during the day, and lodging and prepared meals in retreat facilities for the morning and evening.
Complete session series in a five to six-day backcountry wilderness experience with overnights backpacking and sleeping in tents.
Complete session series in installations of one session per month over the course of five to six months with immersive, self-study activities between sessions.
Single and half-day excursions revolving around an isolated session topic which may range from finding nature as healer, processing despair about our environment, or identifying your personal creative expression and how you want to utilize it to incite positive change.
Custom experiences from a half-day to multi-day covering any singular topic of Regenerations, or incorporating multiple topics with goals from simply connecting in nature to finding a creative modality of activism.
Regenerations can easily be taken to the front, side or deep backcountry, but does require contact with nature and the outdoors in some capacity. This can range from an urban city park to wilderness areas and every environment in between.
How & Where are Courses Offered?
Individual and full session courses are regularly available through a variety of organizations in Crested Butte, Colorado. These have included the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival, Center for the Arts Crested Butte, Western Colorado University (including their Summer Teacher Institute and Extended Studies departments) and Coldharbour Institute.
We can conduct private retreats, learning experiences and community collaborations in your home community or focus environment and on a schedule of your choice.
Regenerations can also be offered through a variety of host organizations either within the Gunnison Valley or another location.
Who May Take Regenerations Courses?
Anyone may take a singular Regenerations course or the full series – community members, travelers and part-time residents in the Gunnison Valley; undergraduate and graduate students; community members from locales outside of the Gunnison Valley; groups from non-profits to corporations and educators of any level.
In particular the following groups might be specifically drawn to these experiences:
Interested individuals wishing to deepen their relationship with the land and find their own creative expression through writing and visual art.
Anyone wishing to step out of the too fast pace of modern life and settle into a new paradigm of living on this planet.
Recreationalists and lovers of the outdoors looking for a new way to interact with our natural world.
Community members and groups wishing to collectively orchestrate a community artistic expression to present messaging towards positive environmental, social, cultural and political change.
Graduate and undergraduate students seeking academic credit. Those pursuing degrees in environmental studies, environmental education, environmental management, art, creative writing, environmental literature and nature writing, or those looking to include skills of leadership, community activism and communication in their course curriculum might be particularly interested (course credit available through Western Colorado University).
Primary and secondary teachers seeking continuing education credits desiring to recharge and / or to gain skills, lesson plans and ideas on connecting students to nature with a focus on exhibiting a final student project communicating about an environmental or social issue through writing and visual art.
Educators of any level – from non-profit to graduate school – wishing to learn new skills and strategies in experiential education, student-centered learning and interdisciplinary education to incorporate into their own classrooms and experiences.
Non-profit boards or organizations desiring to participate in a group retreat to recharge, refocus and remember the reasons that brought you to this work in the first place.
Corporate leadership, teams and departments wishing to build communication skills and relationships, recharge and refresh in nature from corporate culture.