The international Earth Day Network, marking the 49th annual Earth Day, is recognizing programs and initiatives around the world that are furthering public awareness of, and participation in, environmental initiatives.
As part of that effort, among the 21 programs world-wide identified as noteworthy Art & Ecology Residencies – programs supporting artists engaged in the environmental cause – is one in Connecticut: the I-Park Environmental Art Program in East Haddam.
The I-Park mission is “Nurturing artists and the creative process – in the fine arts and in nature.” Since its founding in 2001, I-Park has sponsored over 900 fully-funded artists’ residencies, with approximately one-third of the artists coming from outside the United States.
The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. Internationally, the Earth Day Network works to broaden the definition of “environment” to include “issues that affect our health and our communities, such as greening deteriorated schools, creating green jobs and investment, and promoting activism to stop air and water pollution.”
Set within a 450-acre nature preserve, I-Park is both an open-air and a closed-studio laboratory for individual creative pursuits in the fields of music composition/sound art, the visual arts, architecture, moving image, creative writing and landscape/garden/ecological design, according to the organization’s website. The location “encourages dialogue between the natural and built environments, and has been the setting for exhibitions, performances, symposia, and programs that facilitate artistic collaboration.”
“From insights developed in the laboratory setting, it also develops and sponsors specially-themed cross-disciplinary projects of cultural significance – and brings these discoveries to light in the public domain. I-Park supports these individual and collaborative investigations through its international artists-in-residence program, the aesthetic engagement of its natural and built environments and with on-site exhibitions, performances and collegial exchanges.”
The I-Park will have open studios for the public to get a glimpse, at no charge, on June 30 and July 28 at the conclusion of residencies this spring and summer. The next residency session begins this week, with additional sessions in June, July and August this summer. The fully-funded residencies are in visual arts, music composition/sound art, creative writing, moving image and architecture/landscape design.
As the website explains, the I-Park residency program is set amidst “open fields, miles of walking trails and stone walls, ponds, a diverse natural habit including teeming wetlands areas, a second generation forest and a pristine river. This quiet, retreat-type environment is especially conducive to the creative process – and has, over the years, inspired a special interest in ephemeral, site-responsive art.”