Depth in Distance
Share Your Projects with Us!
Please share your projects by tagging @wavehill and using the hashtags #familyartproject and #depthindistance on our social media platforms so that we can keep the conversation going together!
Stories help us share knowledge and gain new understanding. Throughout time and across borders people have told stories to relate to the plants around them. Bees find their way into many of these stories, spreading pollen and life. Folklore tells us that important life events must be first told to the bees so they will continue to care for the flowers. What stories should we tell the bees about our most beloved flowers? Connect with a plant that is important to you and illustrate its story in a uniquely crafted pollination myth.
- Dried flowers
- Crayons, markers or colored-pencils
- Optional: Melted beeswax or a melted candle
What stories blossom and grow in the plants around us? Explore the art of botanical illustration with thoughtful observation that helps us understand plants more intimately. Learn about morphology, the study of botanical form, and how plants tell their own stories by the shapes they take. Using a field journal, learn several drawing techniques that will help you see a plant you know and love differently.
- Mark maker (watercolor, pencil, pen, etc.)
- A plant to observe
What keeps you growing? How have you grown in ways that are uniquely you? Create a living sculpture from seeds and natural materials to document and celebrate personal growth.
This project is meant to introduce you to a variety of techniques, therefore materials can vary depending on what you find. For our projects, we used:
- Found natural materials like grass cuttings, moss, weeds pulled from garden or sidewalk
- Mixing bowls with water
- Branches from felled trees
- Egg shells
- Egg cartons
- Bracket and drill
“Throw it away” they say. And we say, “where is this place, ‘away?’” It’s been 100 years since women were given the right to vote in the United States, and since then women continue to shift culture in remarkable ways. Join Family Art Project as we look forward and beyond borders to learn from ecofeminism and women like Isatou Ceesay and Wangari Maathai who have used the resources around them to claim their place on earth and bring love and care to the land. Create bags to carry your own ecofeminist toolkit from upcycled materials that would otherwise be thrown ‘away’.
- Old clothes
- Thread and needle
- Stapler or fabric/hot glue
- Optional: Zipper
How do you find extraordinary in the ordinary? How do you learn from history to move forward in the future? Join artist Tattfoo Tan in creating ephemeral, mindful art as you build a sacred space around you and bring attention to cultivating resiliency in yourself and your environment.
- Multi-colored beans, seeds, grains, sand, dirt
- Optional: Tattfoo's free workbook, Heal Humankind in order to Heal the Land
Travel to the Great Barrier Reef to swim alongside the brightest and most uniquely shaped coral. Coral is a living organism that comes in a multitude of colors and patterns. When coral is under stress from environmental changes, coral loses color and becomes bleached white. Express your care for keeping our coral healthy by painting a vibrant reef habitat on coral forms of wire, newspaper and repurposed found objects.
- Optional: Corn starch
- Optional: Found objects and natural materials of various forms
Create your own clay and plant pulp sculptures to build a nest modeled after the expert home-making of swallows, orioles, kingfishers, wasps and termites. Just as birds fill their nests with eggs to protect, and insects carefully construct complex chambers for safety, fill your nest with what you’d like to nurture.
Celebrate those who care for you in your life by arranging a bouquet for Mother Earth, your own mother, or anyone else that you’d like to return the love to. Put care into arranging your bouquet from found natural materials and wildflowers, infusing the attributes of different flowers as symbols of care. Leave your bouquet in the wild as an offering of care to nature, or hand it to someone who takes care of you.
There are many ways to use a whole assortment of materials to create your bouquet - including wildflowers, natural materials and upcycled materials.
Some of what we used included:
- Phone with iNaturalist app to identify flowers
- Colorful paper
- Markers, crayons or pencils
- Dried flowers or leaves
- Upcycled materials like egg cartons, cardboard
- For vase: salt and flour
Experiment with wild and unusual mark-making to emulate patterns you see in nature. Use a paintbrush made from evergreens and work with the chlorophyll of leaves to make marks that are responsive to the materials you choose. Use wire and thread to move these works on paper onto a three-dimensional mobile, creating your very own installation to remind you of the mark you choose to make.
- Assortment of leaves
- String or thread
- Old toothbrush
- Pot on a stove-top
- Optional: Washing soda and bleach
Be inspired Faith Ringold’s Tar Beach and imagine the possibilities of flying over places that hold a special meaning. Then, work to create the magical atmosphere that will hold you on your spectacular journey with upcycled fabric as inspired by Faith Ringold's quilts. Where will you take flight?
- Fabric scraps
Celebrate Pride Month by creating monoprints that capture the resilience, interconnection and adaptations that allow plants like daffodils, ivy and iris to beam with their own brilliance as they attract pollinators. Be inspired by what these plants can teach us about queering our spaces—taking actionable steps in creating accessible and inclusive spaces—while exploring their creative and resourceful ways of thriving in their environment.
- Printing plate (glass from a picture frame, sheet of plastic, etc.)
- White paper
- Optional: rubber bands, scissors, stick, images of flowers
Activist Grace Lee Boggs asks us the question, “[w]hat time is it on the clock of the world?” Envision your answer to this question by building your own sun-dial and looking to the wisdom of sunflowers and other heliotropic plants that move in the direction of the sun. On this Summer Solstice, build a sundial that reflects your vision for the direction you see the world moving.
Listen to your perennial plants, and let them tell you how exactly they want to be cared for. Learn from perennials that grow, bloom and thrive in some seasons and know when to rest in dormancy in others. Create a perennial plant you can keep as a family as you talk about ways in which you would like to be cared for.
- Can or pot
- Straws, pipe cleaners, or sticks
Create canyons and cover your cliffs based on your views of the Palisades across the Hudson. Emulate the forms of the Palisades with cardboard and upcycled materials.
- Upcycled materials like paper towels, coffee filters, etc.
- Chalk or crayons
- Magazine cuttings
Seeds spread and scatter to find new places to grow by way of water, wind, fire and animals. Honor the many ways that plants take root by using upcycled materials found at home to create your own block-prints. Use those block-prints to be like the seeds, and disperse your love and care through the postal service.
- Cardstock or construction paper
Imagination is one of our greatest tools for transformation. Build a shelter using natural dye techniques, abstraction, and architectural principles to create the kind of landscapes you want in the world. What imagined landscapes will you create a shelter out of?
Build a shelter using any materials that you may have at home, including:
- Scrap pieces of fabric like bed-sheets, cheesecloth, etc.
- Found items like umbrellas, pillows, and even furniture
To dye material look in your kitchen for red cabbage, avocado peels and pits, onion skins, turmeric, beets, spinach, coffee grounds, dried flower petals and other colorful foods you think might make a dye.
Gain a deeper understanding of the history, culture, and art of weaving. Come with us on a journey to learn what other creatures weave, then create your own weaving and embellish for use as tools or sculptures.
Use any materials that you may have at home, including:
- Natural objects, such as branches, sticks or stems
- Fabric, such as yarn, thread or recycled clothing
- Paper or cardboard, including magazines, photographs or copies of artwork
Protect the rivers! Let the stories of great water protectors and riverkeepers inspire you, and use upcycled materials to create works that serve as a reminder for you to be a water protector for the rivers that keep you.
Learn more about riverkeeping and the importance of the Hudson River estuary from our friends at Riverkeeper.
Go deeper into the stories of water protectors highlighted by Waterkeeper Alliance.
Use any materials that you may have at home, including:
- Upcycled materials such as magazines, found objects, natural materials
Celebrate Arbor Day Weekend with Tree Ring Mandalas! As a tree grows, it produces a new ring of visible growth each year, marking its history. In a tree ring, you can find information that the tree has carried about its own personal growth, and the changes to its ecosystem. Count the years of your own life to create a mandala that speaks to your growth and the growth of the community around you.
Learn how tree rings can tell your personal life story by following along with this worksheet.
Use Robin Wall Kimmerer's 'honorable harvest' to get tips on how to forage natural materials.
Materials for Tree Ring Mandalas:
- Paper, fabric or cardboard for base
- To apply to base, use materials you already have such as paper scraps, natural materials (twigs, grass, sand, flower petals, nut shells), household items (string, toothpicks, etc.)
Voiceover credits for Storytelling:
Narrator: Briggs Pierce
The Tree: Anh Ta
The Boy: Ryan Davis
Draw from personal and cultural experiences to reimagine your relationship to nature. Use your own silhouette as the canvas to map out your personal and cultural relationship to the land. Create the topographies and landforms that trace your roots and routes from your own memorabilia, including junk mail, letters, maps and family records.
Be inspired by your surroundings, and go on an imaginary bioblitz to find make-believe animals and plants that may just exist. Create your own species using objects found in your home, and place them in their very own habitat where they will thrive.
Download this worksheet to tell your animal's story!
Find the nature that unfurls around you. Make handmade journals to document your observations with designs that unfurl as flowers do, recording your naturalist studies. Be inspired by the parts of nature that unfurl in and around your own home.
Taking inspiration from Emily Dickinson’s poem, "'Hope' is a thing with feathers," create a bird by tracing your hands onto paper or using finger-paints to provide a little bit of hope during this challenging time. Use natural materials to build your bird its own habitat to live and fly with you at home.
For this project, you will need:
- Paper in an assortment of colors (magazines, scraps, tin foil – whatever you can get your hands on!)
- Paint (optional)
- Sticks (optional)
- Found objects and a collection of natural materials
- Your hands
Washing our hands not only makes sure they are clean, it also shows care for ourselves, our families and pets, and our community. For this special introductory video, listen and read along to this poem by Dori Midnight and download the worksheet to create your own poem based on the poem structure. Share your family’s thoughts on why you wash your hands and the ways in which you are connected to each other and nature.