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Getting Back to Art's Roots: New Art Course Collaborates with Student Farm

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Plant to Print art installation

A new course being offered this fall is combining art, science and history to create a novel classroom experience. Sustainable Studio (ART 297) returns students to the roots of the dye industry by learning about both ancient and modern production methods, and then making art themselves with natural dyes and fibers. The instructors, Ann Shostrom and Kim Gates Flick, are looking to create a community within the class, that includes the students as well as visiting artists and lecturers throughout the semester.

Students will learn about the history of art materials, which, according to Shostrom, have become more toxic over the years. Flick and Shostrom are helping the next generation of artists make art environmentally friendly by learning how to make their own dyes from sustainable resources.

Student farm“Chemical dyes are very hard on the planet, often polluting local waters,” said Shostrom, associate professor of art. “Using more natural dyes is important moving forward.”

As part of the experience, students will spend time on the Student Farm at Penn State, harvesting plants to create dyes through the different techniques they learn about, as well as experimentation on their own. The class will also head out to Black Moshannon State Forest where they will be gathering more plants for dye-making.

Full story, by Victoria Indivero

Student Farm image by Patrick Mansell