This year, we celebrated the 150th Arbor Day in downtown Goshen. There was tree climbing, singing, face painting, and many educational booths. The Elkhart County SWCD, along with Indiana Master Naturalist (IMN) alumni, set up an interactive display along with a tree giveaway. The activity, titled “Ephemeral Art”, was a big hit with people small and tall. The concept was that participants were able to take items found in nature—such as sticks, leaves, acorns, rocks, and pinecones—and create a work of art within a picture frame. Eventually, another participant would come along and change the picture within the frame. If we were to leave the artwork, it would still only be around for a short amount of time as the medium in which created it would eventually blow away, wash away, or decay. I think there is something that we can learn from this concept of ephemeral art.
As I watched people come up to the table to create a picture, they would often collaborate with their friends, family, and sometimes strangers to arrange their masterpiece. One teacher can influence a student, but it takes many to create a student masterpiece. If you take one of the artists away, the finished product would not look the same. Never underestimate your power as an educator to influence a student. Whether you have them for a year, a month, or a day you could have an immense impact on their future because in that moment you are changing them.
Ephemeral art is a representation of a moment in time that will change and fluctuate with the world around it. As an educator, you are helping to form your students, so that they may transform and adapt as everything around them does. In any given moment, you have a big impact. Your approach to education, influences young minds, constantly forming them into their future selves.
You are the artists and they are your masterpieces. Treat them with thoughtfulness and individuality.