Environmental Art

Submitted by: Larry Prescott, Madison Middle School, Rexburg, Idaho
Unit: Environmental art - Sculpture - Technology
Lesson: Natural Collaboration: Building With the Five Elements of Art
Grade Level: 7th Grade (middle school)



Students will assemble found natural objects into an arrangement emphasizing one or more of the 5 elements of art and decide upon the best view of their work to be photographed.



  • Students will be able to identify the five elements of art in visual work i.e. line, shape, value, texture, and value.

  • Students will defend/discuss their constructions using the five elements of art.

  • Students will discover relationships between the environment and their creation i.e. light and setting.

  • Students will use Photoshop to enhance the visual elements in their work.

See more examples on Larry's Web site (Archive)





Andy Goldsworthy slide presentation (Internet Resources)
Collection of natural objects
Digital Camera.
Photoshop (Available from the Adobe Education Store)
Student work slide presentation.



Day 1: View the work of Andy Goldsworthy. (Teacher-made slide presentation). Discuss his work in terms of the 5 elements of art. Students will be able to identify the elements in his work and order the elements in terms of visual importance.

Day 2: Walk to the community arboretum to look for interesting natural objects. Discuss possibilities and gather items (bring favorite stones, shells, bones etc. from home if desired).

Day 3: Begin assemblage of art. Experiment and gather more items from the school ground. Students arrange items and make sketches of most successful compositions. You might want to put a tarp/drop cloth (secured with stakes) over the area where students are working over night.

Day 4: Refine ideas. Complete construction. Photograph work.

Day 5: Work with the digital image in Photoshop. Manipulate the color and values to enhance the visual image.

Day 6: View slides of student work (teacher made presentation). Evaluate each work in terms of the 5 art elements.



Students will write one paragraph addressing the following points:

  • Students will identify the significance of the 5 art elements in their work.

  • Students will describe at least one relationship between the environment and their art

Note from Larry: I wish I had recorded a few of their comments. Many were very insightful…learning did take place! This was a fun project that the majority of the kids thoroughly enjoyed.



Have students do a "focus down" drawing of all or part of their "installation" (lay a cardboard frame over the work to find an interesting part - photograph that part up close to capture details) - Draw from photograph observing carefully the details. Students could begin drawings outside if time permits. Paint focus down drawing with watercolors - or render with Colored Pencils... See Focus Down Drawing lesson . Use circular, square or rectangular format. See nature paintings by George Dombek for a contemporary artist.


Internet Resources:

Earth Works -Putting Art Together for the Sake of the Earth (Archive) - Online Project by Craig Roland

Andy Goldsworthy Online (Artcyclopedia)

Center for Global Environmental Education - Andy Goldsworthy

21st Century British Sculpture - Andy Goldsworthy | Andy Goldsworthy Portfolio (Archive)

What is Art? What is an Artist? Photograph by Andy Goldsworthy - additional links provided.

Nature and Nature: Andy Goldsworthy - video clip Roland Collection.


Book: Andy Goldsworthy: A Collaboration with Nature. - Scottish artist Andy Goldsworthy uses a seemingly infinite array of purely natural materials, from snow and ice to leaves, stone, and twigs in the creation of his one-of-a-kind sculptures. Goldsworthy's approach is to interrupt, shape, or in some other way temporarily alter or work with nature to produce his fragile, mutable pieces.


DVD: Andy Goldsworthy - Rivers and Tides. - A Scottish-German 2001 documentary about artist Goldsworthy, a Scotsman whose medium is nature itself and whose preferred studio is the outdoors, particularly where water forever flows, rises, and/or retreats. Read the review.

http://www.metmuseum.org/ (Archive) | http://www.art-word.com/goldsworthy/goldsworthy.page3.htm

Also see Lucien den Arend Environments and Landscape Projects

Earthworks - links | Robert Smithson



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