This past fall, A Company of Girls embarked on a year-long Citizen Scientist Art project at the Maine Audubon wildlife sanctuary at Gilsland Farm in Falmouth, Maine. We are so excited and grateful to be collaborating with Maine Audubon on this initiative, which aims to give these urban girls an opportunity to create art and build friendships in nature.
A Company of Girls is an arts-based after-school program in Portland dedicated to empowering and supporting girls ages 8-18. Through experiences in theater, as well as visual and culinary arts, the girls cultivate their self-confidence, build resiliency, and create a community of tolerance and acceptance where uniqueness is celebrated and creativity thrives.
Each of the ten girls involved in this project marked an 8’ x 8’ quadrant of field or woods with yarn in the West Meadow, with the Presumpscot River estuary as a constant, epic, backdrop. We visit these sites two times per month to collect phenological data and translate observations into drawings, photography, and poetry. The project aspires to equip the girls with experience of the plants and wildlife that grow in Maine so that they are inspired to be stewards of their environment and outspoken advocates within their school and community.
The girls’ enthusiasm for being at Gilsland has exceeded expectations and is evidence that they are discovering a new sense of place in nature which nurtures their creative spirit like no other!
Here are some highlights from our blog so far:
Day 1 10/18/2017
Doug Hitchcox, the Maine Audubon Naturalist of Gilsland Farm, led us on an epic odyssey through the birch forest, to to the West Meadow and to the marsh along the estuary. He taught us how to activate birds by pishing, and pointed out many plant species along the way, introducing the girls to invasive and native plants as we encountered them.
Day 2 10/23/2017
The girls continued exploring, then chose the quadrant of land they will be observing.
Day 3 11/29/2017
The girls revisited their plots to notice the seasonal changes, aka phenology. Ceiba and Hana took photographs of the landscape and fellow citizen artist/scientists, while Alyssia made an impromptu Andy Goldsworthy-esque nature sculpture hanging from a tree in her quadrant overlooking the estuary. Several girls wrote poems based on their log entries for this day.
Day 4 1/29/2018
The girls revisited their quadrants and recorded their phenological observations in their field logs. They also did shadow drawings, tracing the outline of plant shadows captured on paper under the sun. Photography played a large role in this visit. The scenery at Gilsland was starkly different and the girls reacted by documenting the ice, light, and trees artistically.
Want to learn more? Check out the rest of the girls’ writing and art from this project on our blog at www.acompanyofgirls.org/blog. While you’re there, look around our site and get to know A Company of Girls!