Zach Pine Nature Sculpture - event Heading



montage of kids and creek art

Making Decisions Together and Working Together

One goal of the project was to convey the power of and challenges inherent in collective work. I wanted to give students skills for decision making and task allocation in small and large groups, and the opportunity to apply those skills in making art.

At the start of the first session, students were told they could work wherever they wanted (except the far bank, which had recently been planted), work in whatever groupings they wanted, and create art in any way they wanted as long as they didn't damage the site. Giving the students so much freedom allowed me and their teacher to make note of each student's decision-making style and collaboration skills.

During the second session, students worked in assigned groups of four. At the start of the session, we discussed the challenges and opportunities that result from working in small groups. We gave each group an initial task: deciding where to create their sculpture. We then reminded students that this meant making another decision first: deciding HOW to decide on a site. Each group was allowed to find its own answers to these questions, with gentle guidance from me and their teacher. In one group, the following proposal was considered: "Throw a rock in the air. Whoever catches it gets to decide for the group where we'll work." Because this plan was unfair to "bad catchers," it was shelved in favor of voting, with a potential tie vote to be resolved by playing rock-paper-scissors.

For the third session, students worked in groups of ten. Before they began working, each group was asked to decide on a plan for how to work together. One group decided to split into three subgroups, each making a different component of a sculptural "city," then joining them together later. The other group decided to "have no plan" of what to make, but to begin by using a long heavy branch as a central feature, and add to it as they got inspired. This became The Abstract Forest .