What Can We Learn from Nature?

What Can We Learn from Nature?

What Can We Learn from Nature?

April/May 2013 issue of American Craft magazine
Author Staff
Mediums Jewelry Fiber
Victoria Altepeter, Nebulae

Victoria Altepeter, Nebulae, 2010, copper, shibuichi, silver, nickel, bronze, stalactite slices, 4 x 4 x 1 in. each. Photo: Victoria Altepeter

Nature asks us to take our time and to observe, and [reminds us] that we must maintain balance in all we do and create. The Grand Canyon was not laid out the way we know it in days but rather centuries. We and nature alike are in a constant state of change, whether we are aware of such subtleties or not. Nature tells us to slow down, but to continue to forge ahead. ~Victoria Altepeter, jeweler, Tempe, AZ

I have learned that little imper­fections in nature are natural and wonderful. A bug bite can make a piece unique. It also reminds us that we are not perfect, but wonderfully unique ourselves. I am a fortunate artist with the ability to capture nature in copper as wearable art or sculpture. Over my 30 years of copper electroforming I have encased everything from decaying leaves to fresh dogwood blossoms. Recently, after collecting hundreds of grape leaves in Saint-Émilion, France, I smiled and thought, “Wow, this is my job!” Nature is amazing to work with every day. ~Dennis Ray, owner, Nature’s Creations, Rockville, MD

In my early work I was doing miniatures that had cities being destroyed by nature (sort of revenge for the blatant destructive qualities of our species), and the woven paintings and sculptures I do now are about recycling. (Most of these pieces have at least 60 percent recycled materials.) I firmly believe art can be a strong voice for changing the pathetic way we treat this little rock we call home. ~Geary Jones, artist and curator, Grand Rapids, MI

Nature teaches designers to adapt. Today, establishing a relationship between our natural environment and our built environment is much more urgent. We must have both a lower impact on the Earth and also be able to adapt to climate change and the possibility of natural disasters. More and more people are considering environmental data in their work, and we are seeing this inform everything from landscaped environments that can withstand flooding to furniture that is designed to produce less waste, both during manufacturing and at the end of its lifetime. ~Jennifer Krichels Gorsche, design and architecture writer, New York

Nature is the origin of time and defines space from form, as they are made evident by material and its entropy. The notion of material has also been rendered digital, reducing the visceral connection to our physical surroundings. Sustaining a working relationship with nature, composed of actual places and “stuff,” identifies us as being human. Nature reminds us to be humbly self-aware in a world increasingly overwhelmed by anomalous systems. ~Jason Lee Starin, ceramic artist, Portland, OR