“Ecologically True Story”TM projects emphasize the value of fully integrating the arts in communicating ecology/ecological research stories. These projects explore the role stories play in shaping public perspectives of science and ecology topics.
Ecological Concepts in Children’s Books: The first investigates “How Ecological Concepts are Represented in Children’s Books,” and involves visual critique and content analysis of Caldecott Medal-winning books held in the University of Wyoming’s Toppan Rare Books Collection. The anticipated outcome is an academic article for submission in a journal such as Biology Teacher, along with workshops which will facilitate discussions between librarians, teachers, children’s book creators, and biologists.
The Ecologically True Story of the Tortoise and the Hare: My second project dovetails with the first, and involves a specific familiar fable. I am conducting research and interviews in/about ecosystems where tortoises and hares actually co-exist. Research is currently on-going in Arizona and East Africa. The anticipated outcome is a multimedia project and exhibition a) investigating the conservation and social/cultural issues in ecosystems where tortoises and hares co-exist, and b) illustrating the value of utilizing a multidisciplinary science+art method for telling this story.
Pica Tidings: The black-billed magpie (Pica pica) and magpies around the world have long been creatures of lore, omen, portent. I grew up in an area where magpies are common, and recently started researching what we know about them from historical, cultural, and scientific perspectives. Right now, the project is developing into a long-form essay about how smart we now know corvids are, how they are good and bad luck, depending on your culture, and how essential magpies are (as scavengers) for nutrient cycling.
School of the High Plains: A public art mural I designed and painted, as part of a collaborative expansion of a community mural in Laramie, Wyoming. My design emphasized the resilience and striking appearance of pronghorn – a unique species endemic to the high plains of North America. Follow the project link for more details.
*Note that handling wild tortoises is strongly discouraged, because tortoises release the water stored in their bladders as a defense mechanism. Therefore, a wild tortoise could die of dehydration if handled during the dry seasons which affect most regions where tortoises exist. Even for tortoises held in captivity, only handle them if the handler/care-taker indicates doing so is allowed.