Students in the University of Hartford’s Nomad Interdisciplinary MFA took an Art & Ecology course with Christy Gast and Camila Marambio, who teach collaboratively as part of Ensayos, in June, 2021. The course focused on peatland conservation, which is the foundation of Ensayo #6. Students participated in the Binational Seminar on the Peatlands of Patagonia and learned about peatland ecology through a field trip to the Crystal Peat Conservation Area in Tolland, CT with special guest Dr. Bernard Goffinet. For their final project, students collaboratively responded to a prompt from the Patagonia Peatland Initiative to experiment with the ArcGIS StoryMap platform to create an interactive tool that creatively integrates art and science to tell the story of a (former) peatland.
Project introduction by Nomad MFA C6 students:
We collaboratively created this StoryMap across time zones and borders. Its completion is the bookend of a process that began with our visit to the Crystal Peat Conservation Area at the beginning of our first residency with the Nomad MFA program in June 2021. We came together as a cohort of artists and learners to visit a peat bog; what we discovered were the ruins of a bog that had been exploited by the Crystal Peat Company decades before. Although our experience was not what we had anticipated, we spent a day exploring the ecosystem that is there now: observing, documenting, meditating, sketching. At the completion of the Art and Ecology course taught by Christy Gast and Camila Marambio, our group was tasked with the creation of a StoryMap about Crystal Peat. We returned to the site before we parted ways to gather more documentation and deepen our understanding–then dispersed to our home communities across the United States and Peru. Through numerous group calls, we visually, textually, and sonically constructed the history of Crystal Peat as told by our vision of the bog’s voice. Our aim was to present an artist’s perspective of place, as well as educating viewers about the science behind Crystal Peat’s ecology and advocating for the preservation of other peatlands.
Here is the direct link to the project. It is best experienced with the audio turned on: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/a6f950ed742a4a17bad81a63efdb9a0a