Transformative Qualities Within Site-specific Ecological Art Projects with Preschool-aged Children

By: Laura Lee Coles  

Early on the sense of an interconnected relationship between man and the non-human realm was defined as one of fluidity and permeability. Early humans held a tightly woven relationship with the non-human realm, yet we find ourselves estranged and moving further from those sensibilities as we immerse ourselves deeply into our digital technologies, social media platforms, and consumer driven culture. It seems it has become necessary to find a way to include early on in school curriculum, sense-based learning opportunities that focus on nurturing aesthetic readiness so that associations and connections to living nature are offered in tandem with the introduction to digital technologies. Inclusive of this approach are questions related to ethics within those experiences and conversations. This inclusion may provide most students the ability to continue to transform this newfound human-technology-nature awareness over time so that respect for the natural non-human world around also instills a sense of respect of each other. Reported here are two public eco-art projects, Sight, Sound and Memory, and The Sunflower Garden Project, that the author conducted with preschool-aged children during an artist residency with Vancouver Park Board, Arts, Culture and Engagement (2013-2018). Influenced by the belief that without art there is no culture, art is culture, these projects portray the processes used so that multiple voices and captured lived experiences reveal and answer questions related to education processes that include human-technology-nature interaction.

Placemaking, Environmental Art, Pre-School Children, Arts-Based Research, Ethics, Digital Technology
Arts Education
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Laura Lee Coles


Laura Lee is an arts-based researcher, published author and exhibiting interdisciplinary artist working in interactive and video installation [both gallery and site-specific) photography, and sound. Laura's interest in the interconnected relationships between human, technology and Nature drives the inspiration of her interactive, contemplative site specific video practice. She holds a Master of Arts from Simon Fraser University from SIAT, the School of Interactive Arts and Technology and is the founder of LocoMotoArt. Currently Laura is in an artist-in-studio residence with Vancouver Park Board Arts Culture and the Environment (2013 - 2017). Laura Lee presents her research a academic conferences internationally. Several of her published papers relate to the practice of digital art installations in natural settings and she has coined the term "digital eco-art." She is a member of the Canadian Academy of Independent Researchers and Community Scholars.