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Drawing on Science: The Connection Between Art and Research

Drawing on Science: The Connection Between Art and Research
Caleb Cochran

In the latest Parent Speaker Series program, St. Mark's Senior Teacher Barbara Putnam spoke to parents about how she works with students to not just create art, but to use it to examine and represent issues impacting our world. Putnam's own art, which includes prints and quilts that have been nationally and internationally displayed, focuses on the environment, so she has her students study similar topics, such as how plastics and garbage impact marine life in oceans across the globe.

In the program, "Drawing on Science," Putnam shared how critical observational skills from the artist's eye can be helpful to scientists studying the environment. One of her art classes, for example, saved their trash for about a week and then examined how product ingredients and containers could impact the ocean's environment. They then sketched scenes that included garbage under the ocean.

Another class studied monk seals and how pollution is endangering their environment. Putnam asked students to portray their research using what they learned about color theory to create colors that matched those in the monk seal environment. Students then wrote a short essay about their findings. Putnam also highlighted a project that required students to examine turtles, their habitats, and the dangers they face. This class was required to apply their understanding of color theory and color mixing to represent different lighting and shades in their paintings.

Putnam said her goal is to get students drawing wherever they are, to observe what they see and hear, and then create art that shows how they have become accurate researchers.

View the recording of this Parent Speaker Series program here.

Artwork by V Former Ulysses_Munoz-Bonin.

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