Students, community benefit from MIAD studio and wellness class

Experiencing nature can lead to wonderful results: a healthy mind and body, and for some first-year students, incredible artwork.

That's the idea behind Cognita Natura, a Research, Practice, Methods course taught by James Barany and Ricky Heldt where the classroom serves as half-studio and half-wellness.

And the classroom? It’s the Urban Ecology Center – Riverside Park, where a semester-long partnership results in two pieces of work for the public to enjoy.

In the morning of each class, students immerse themselves in the natural world through trail hiking, mountain biking, canoeing, archery, yoga, meditation and Tai chi. In the afternoon, they create a new body of studio work through painting, drawing, earthworks and photography, reflecting their explorations of nature.

"I feel like the purpose of this class is quite literally to experience nature," says Ignacio Garcia-Casas Tron, an international student from Mexico who is planning to major in Industrial Design. "From actual ecological nature, to the nature of our own minds and bodies, to the nature of what it means to be an artist--this class encompasses more than any other class I have ever been in."

MIAD students are creating and installing a mural and a chandelier at the Urban Ecology Center to give back to its community and all it offers, incorporating important lessons in ecology and biology learned from the UEC during the semester.

Garcia-Casas Tron (lower right) and classmates

The mural was heavily influenced by Garcia-Casas Tron's design, using gradients and transitions through upcycled materials to show flora and fauna native to Wisconsin, and various habitats of Riverside Park and Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum.

For more information about MIAD's Foundations program, click here.

Photos by: Mark Fetherston

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