Posts Tagged ‘biomimicry’

Hands on Pianos – Tree Songs

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Tree Songs, close-up

Tree Songs, collage

These images are from the “Hands on Pianos” project I am currently participating in. This piece is called “Tree Songs.” It’s comprised of saplings I painted white and screwed to a piano I painted black. By attaching saplings to the piano, it appears to have the forest reclaim it, or perhaps people will see the piano as growing among a bunch of saplings. There is a beautiful rhythm to a grove of saplings clustered in a forest. The repetition of these vertical elements should compliment the black and white keys of the piano.

The piece will be installed for the month of July in an outside, public space somewhere in Vermont and New Hampshire’s Upper Valley. This project is part of Dartmouth College’s celebration of the Hopkins Center for the Arts’ 50th anniversary. Mine is one of 50 pianos that have been altered by artists that will installed in the region.  See more images of the creative process on the official Hands on Pianos website. And find pianos using this map of all installations.  I’ll let you know when I learn where my piece will be installed.

Systems Thinking through Art in Nature

Friday, April 13th, 2012

Art in nature piece by Dominic Stucker

By guest writer, Dominic Stucker, Program Manager at Sustainability Leaders Network. Based on participation in several of my art in nature workshops, Dominic offers these reflections.

Systems thinking and creativity are essential for bringing about the transition to sustainability. Systems thinking helps us assemble diverse stakeholders to better understand the integrated economic, social, and environmental systems we seek to change. Creativity and art help us gain clarity in vision and tap into the breakthrough thinking necessary for innovating a new reality, a new relationship between people and planet. Fortunately, these leadership skills are mutually reinforcing, especially through making art in nature.

Immersing ourselves in nature, sitting quietly, eyes opened, eyes closed, we can hone our skills of observation, noticing patterns and processes that have evolved over millennia. Using all our senses, we can experience and learn from nature. Perhaps we see the streams, brooks, and river in a basin, noticing nature’s nested hierarchies. Or we reflect on the larger water cycle, a process that, instead of linear and polluting, is cyclical and cleansing. Gazing skyward from a soft bed of pine needles, we can observe the forest’s resilience in flexibility, trees swaying in the wind. Or we smell the pungent soil, part of annual cycle that returns sustenance to the trees’ roots. Perhaps we see the genius in a flower, tracking the sun and folding its petals at dusk; or in the capacity of a cactus to store water; or in the design of a feather. We can learn from and co-create with these natural systems.

I have had the privilege and joy of participating in several Art of Sustainability sessions with Vermont artist and educator, Jay Mead. Two that stand out were along the Housatonic River in rural Connecticut and along a wild part of the Connecticut River in Vermont. Jay invites participants to see nature anew through quiet observation, sensing, and play. The invitation includes being fully present, setting aside transient to do lists and deep-seated preconceptions about how the world works. Participants are asked to start from a place of unknowing – playful for some, meditative for others – being open for deeper wisdom to emerge.

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Art of Sustainability on the Connecticut River

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011
Four Pieces
Pieces by Jay Mead, Michaelyn Bachhuber, Nirmala Nair, and Dominic Stucker

As part of the annual Dana Meadows Fellows Seminar, organized by the Sustainability Leaders Network here at Cobb Hill Cohousing, Vermont from 3-7 October, I offered a session on the art of sustainability at Sumner Falls, a wild and wooded part of the Connecticut River.

The session focused on engaging the right brain, which is closely associated with thinking outside the box and creativity. Creative problem solving is essential for addressing the many challenges we face in bringing about a sustainable future for people and planet; art and creative expression is a powerful mechanism for enhancing this capability.

I asked the group to start from a place of unknowing, of having no preconceived notions. I then asked them to observe what they saw around them, reflect, see patterns, play, and create an art piece. The recent flooding of the river meant that flotsam and jetsam were incorporated into many pieces, bringing order and beauty to the chaos. Afterwards, we toured the art pieces to hear reflections inspired by the creative process. This process of creating something out of found materials provided another method of storytelling for participants so that insights on personal and work lives emerged and were shared.

Learn more about our Art of Sustainability efforts on the Sustainability Leaders Network website.

Inspiration from Scraps

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

Here is my latest sculpture it is called “Wind Form.” It is laminated mahogany (scraps from mom’s stool). “Wind Form” refers to the sail like shape of the piece. It also is reminiscent of desert rock formations that have been shaped by  wind and water.

A Kitchen Stool

Friday, February 11th, 2011


The stool (dimensions: 21″ x 14″ x 14″) was carved from laminated solid mahogany scrap material. I created this stool for my mother as the replacement for a metal stool that was falling apart. Since mom uses the stool as her primary seat at the kitchen table I made it comfortable, solid and inspired by the form of the wild mushrooms she loves to pick. It is finished withTung Oil.