High School

A Masterful Integration of Art + Ecology

In 2013, the Burren College of Art in Ireland, conferred it’s very first Masters of Fine Art in Art & Ecology. How cool is that?

Contemplation at cliffs of Moher

This cross-curricular graduate degree is Burren College’s newest initiative for enacting it’s 20-year mission that includes “an invitation to audacious conversations on issues of global significance.” Certainly ecology is globally significant. So is art. How ‘audacious’ of Burren to officially recognize and support this integration. Here’s how Burren defines the program:

MFA/MA Art & Ecology

The MFA in Art & Ecology provides an immersive education in the development of a professional practice as an ecologically oriented artist.  As an MFA graduate you will produce a final exhibition of both personal and collaborative work, which will demonstrate that you have acquired the skills necessary to survive and thrive as a practicing artist.  You will demonstrate capabilities for critical enquiry through fine art, with the ability to evaluate your work through an informed grasp of the social, cultural and theoretical concerns shaping discourse on contemporary art and ecological issues.  You will also propose and implement an achievable, interdisciplinary collaborative project that engages with ecological / environmental concerns in the Burren or on a global scale.

Who was the first to earn this MFA? Maryann Worrell. While at Burren College of Art (BCA), Maryann focused on food resources, which led to the development of a small portable community garden that still is in use. She also established a gallery show called Crisis Farm Lab, where visitors can take seeds, water and soil to grow or extend their own gardens. Since returning to the US, Maryann has established her art and education program as well as joined forces with the Street Road Artists Space  to create a new version of the interactive art & garden activity.

Cultivating Student Interest in Art & Ecology
Ask your students to explore ways to combine art & ecology as they…

  1. Review the links above to learn more about Burren’s programs. What prerequisites are there to apply? Have students create a mock application by following the online forms.
  2. Select from one of Maryann Worrell’s videos, links or gallery exhibits to determine 3-5 examples of eco-artistic integration in her work.
  3. Define an ecological issue they find of great interest or importance. Then develop a 1-page proposal for representing that issue artistically. Proposals should include:  title, theme or goal conveyed via the work, 2 objectives/outcomes for viewers of or participants in the completed work, materials needed, estimated time to complete (all realistic in your class-based setting).
  4. All proposals should be viewed by the full class and voted on for topical importance, ability to be completed, and integration of art & ecology. After voting, split the group up to actually complete the Top 3 proposals as 3 teams, with the original proposers as the team leaders.
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