I think it’s safe to say that art and creative projects have been heavily influenced by nature throughout our human history. Painters like Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet gained much of their fame from their nature-inspired paintings. Poetry and songs have used natural elements to express emotion. Film and television shows have used the outdoors as the perfect backdrop to tell some of the most beloved stories of our time.
So do the arts really help us connect with nature?
For me, it definitely does. I distinctly remember going out in the cold, snowy winter for a photography project in high school. While my body did not enjoy the freezing cold, I got some of my favorite photos that I’ve ever personally taken out of that project. If I hadn’t taken those photos, I might have missed out on the natural and unique beauty the winter season can bring.
As writer I feel like my head is the most clear when I’m sitting outside. Breathing in the air from through the trees and hearing things like birds (and even those noisy cicadas) helps me think more clearly than I do when I’m sitting indoors with a million distractions.
Photographers like like Joe Cornish of the Guardian can attest to the power of art’s connection to nature. In a 2012 post he mentioned that the arts and activities can help us feel closer to nature in a world where we are often cooped up indoors for most of our days.
The National Park Association recently posted about how art contests with kids have beneficial to getting them more acquainted with their environmental surroundings. If something as simple as an art contest can get kids outside, why not explore other creative things like poetry?
Kent State University’s own Wick Poetry Center recently remembered the 50th year since the Cuyahoga River burning through their “River Stanzas” project. Thanks to the Traveling Stanza team, local kids and adults got the chance to learn and express their thoughts about the Cuyahoga through poetry. The Wick Poetry Center is also helping with the United States Park Service with the Every Kid Outdoors program. It gives fourth-graders and their educators free passes to explore the National Parks across the country.