Art and nature, back and forth

Musings on the relationship between art and nature by staff member Hanna Greenberg.

Treestump with FlowersMar is a photographer who can paint and draw. The other day I was shown several photos Mar had taken. One of them was of the stump of a big old tree. Mar had arranged a tiny bouquet of dainty flowers in its center. The contrast between the strong, hard wood and the delicate colorful blossoms was quite striking.

Goldsworthy Sculpture

© 1982 Andy Goldsworthy

It reminded me of the work of Andy Goldsworthy, a photographer who uses twigs, leaves, stones, and ice to make designs and structures in natural environments. He photographs his creations and then leaves them behind to let the elements return them to their original place. He works for days creating his art, knowing that their only permanence will be in the images his camera takes of them.

Mar and I spent an hour or so looking at these images in great detail and I was awed by how much more an artist’s eye saw than I did. As we were doing this, I said that I have seen people of all ages engaged in this kind of creation: on the beach, playing in the snow, or just sitting in the woods. Mar’s raised eyebrows expressed amused doubt.

Later I went outside to eat my lunch at the picnic table because it was a glorious Spring day, well appreciated after the long cold winter. At the table, Jane and Amelia, who are five years old and are great friends, were playing with pine cones, dandelion flowers and a rock. And then for a minute they arranged all these items in row, in a lovely pattern, just like Goldsworthy does. In a flash, they gathered the items and went away. The beauty was ephemeral, to be enjoyed in the moment, then quickly gone.

Without my conversation with Mar, and without Goldsworthy’s book, I doubt that I would have understood what those two little girls had created.

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What a difference!

This week’s post was written by SVS parent Foss Tighe.

When I was growing up, I cherished every opportunity not to go to school.  If I had a cold, I would play up the symptoms to get a day off. Snow days were manna from heaven. And so it was with my own children in public school. As parents with our own work schedules, we would meet each school morning health complaint with skepticism. “Are you really sure you’re sick? Mom or dad will have to miss work if you have to stay home.”

I’ve found it hard to shake off this skepticism. A couple months ago my oldest had a health complaint one morning and didn’t want to go to school. I started grilling her about the truthfulness of her alleged symptoms. Her younger sister came to her aid. She simply explained, “Dad, remember, she really likes school now.” Which is true, there is no longer much to be gained in staying home.

In April we went to Ireland, and the kids missed a few days of school. We had a long travel day home: rental car to Shannon Airport, Aer Lingus from Shannon to Logan, Logan Express Bus to Framingham and Taxi to our house. When the kids realized, given the time change, that SVS was open, they asked if we could take them to school for part of the day! Mom and Dad were too tired, but it showed again how much they actually like going to school.

Just this week, the kids woke up feeling out of sorts. Stomach ache and allergies I think. So they chose to stay home. I work from home most days now, so that sort of thing is less stressful. Then suddenly around 11:30 (maybe after the antihistamines had kicked in) the youngest said she felt better and would like to go to school, could I take her? OK sure – off we go to SVS.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought of asking to go to school midday after getting “permission” to stay home for the day. What a difference loving your school can make!

Want to see the difference for yourself? Come meet parents, students, and staff at at our next Open House: Saturday, October 18th from 1:00-4:00 pm. Directions here.

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A late summer ceremony

Who doesn’t love a wedding?  Staff member Hanna Greenberg gives us a peek at a lovely example of an unusual (but charming!) aspect of SVS life. Portrait of the BridesAt Sudbury Valley, we often celebrate weddings. Some are simple impromptu games, and others are elaborate ceremonies, like the one we had in mid-September outdoors on the back lawn, on a beautiful bright day. What I liked about this wedding was the participation of many students of all ages as members of the wedding and as, of course, the invited guests. The students involved put a lot of effort into preparing the ceremony.Flower Girls

Wedding CeremonyThe younger students were flower girls, who strewed petals and seemed delighted to be included in the teenagers’ activity, while at the same time they felt it was totally natural to be part of a widely mixed group. A “Justice of the Peace” presided, clad in a gorgeous red dress, completing her outfit with high heels. She read the vows that the brides had prepared. The spirit of the school – acceptance and joy – infected everyone.

It was a joyous occasion with beauty, fun, good humor and warmth – really the essence of all activities here. We all enjoyed laughing together and loving the whole show.Celebration!

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