Today, I followed Tony Martin, to the University of Illinois at Chicago so I could observe him talking with university students in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences about how to use images to expand and enhance scientific ideas, something he has done in his two most recent books, Life Traces of the Georgia Coast (2013) and Dinosaurs Without Bones (2014).
|ON THE CAMPUS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS CHICAGO. Voila! The quirky Science and Engineering building where Tony was invited to talk about scientific illustration. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)|
|ICHNOLOGICAL COLLEAGUES. Above Roy was kind enough to bring along Tony's books to show the students when introducing him to the class. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)|
As he applauded their correct deciphering about nests, feces, and tracks, he coached them to discover the traces resulting from dinosaur behaviors that most people just don't think about--urinating, vomiting, and gnawing on other dinosaur bones.
|EVERYONE CAN DRAW. Tony and I share this strong belief: Everyone has the ability to draw and stands to benefit from drawing regularly. Here, he is telling disbelieving students this message. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)|
Also using photographs, Tony talked to students about how to express scientific concepts. He showed an image of numerous sauropod tracks. He said if you looked at this closely enough, you would see five sauropods moving in harmony, evenly spaced, parallel to one another, moving together. What dinosaur behavior would you interpret? Students did not immediately answer "herding," but they got it in the end. Seeing a dinosaurian behavior as it was recorded in the fossil record is a valuable and alternative way to understand that information.
"Look at patterns and translate them into something meaningful," Tony said to an appreciative group of students, as he took a bite of pizza. He went through slides of photos and illustrations depicting dinosaur behavior. We saw a photograph of 3,000 dinosaur tracks from Lark Quarry in Winton, Queensland, Australia, that were eloquently mapped.
There was an illustration where Tony let his imagination go wild as he envisioned the traces that would have been made by sauropods or theropods having sex. And, yes, college students wake up a little bit when sex is brought up in the discussion! Tony told students that maybe traces of dinosaur sex haven't been found yet because scientists are too prudish and that maybe there is a need to get more "dirty."
He showed images of cocoons found in rims of dinosaur nests, dinosaur burrows, termite borings, healed bite marks in dinosaur bones, dinosaur urine traces, and imagined projectile dinosaur vomit. Oh, what a brown bag lunch discussion it was! Good photographs and illustrations help everyone learn the search patterns that lead to future discoveries.
The hour went by quickly, dissolving into a flurry of pizza boxes being swept away, soda bottles, paper plates....
|VIEW FROM ROY PLOTNIK'S OFFICE WINDOW.|
That's Coffee with Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me and tell me what your role as artist in your community is. Would you like to join my Facebook group, The Daily Creative Practice, that I created one year ago to establish a warm supportive community for us creatives? Click here.
|RETURNING TO ART. Once we have finished serving science lovingly and joyfully, Tony and I feel no guilt in hopping on a bus and going into another community. Leaving the University of Illinois today, we ventured to the National Museum of Mexican Art and spent the rest of the day there fascinated by the diversity of Mexican culture, people, and history. (Selfie by Hallelujah Truth--see me in the reflection?)|
CONTEMPLATING COMMUNITIES (The Rest of the C4ward March Blogathon Prompt):
Think about your relationship as an artist or artistic entrepreneur to your neighborhood, city, and region. Then respond to these two questions:
Question 1 (Artists Contributions):
Question 1 (Artists Contributions):
- What does your creative work contribute to your communities?
- In general, what do the arts do for a city?
- What do you do for your city or community?
- What SHOULD you do, if anything, that you don't already do?
Question 2 (Cities Contributions):
- How should communities develop and support their artists?
- What is your city or community doing, if anything, to help you develop and support you as a creative?
- What areas are creative communities nurtured in your area? Coffee shops? Galleries? Museums? Government spaces? Nonprofit spaces? Corporate spaces? Etc...