The Environmental Artist-in-Residence Program at McColl Center for Visual Art is celebrating neighborhood environmental diversity in a collaborative project with Lakewood Community Development Corporation, Lakewood Neighborhood Association and Charlotte Nature Museum.  This environmental art outreach involves science and nature-based entry experiences for children that culminate in art-making projects which will live on in their neighborhood. Encouraged by artists and scientists, the children will learn about the ecosystem of their local Stewart Creek and the impact storm water runoff has on its water quality.

In late-June, 2011 the project began when neighborhood children, guided by educators from Charlotte Nature Museum, installed a “Cubic Meter Community” sampling station in various locations near Stewart Creek. Through this sampling station, the children investigated and identified the natural species occurring within the riparian buffer along the creek.  They discovered numerous “ambassador species” which they will reference to create tile mosaics that mark storm drains in their neighborhood. 

Throughout the month of July, Charlotte ceramic artist, Tom Thoune, a McColl Center for Visual Art alumni, and the Center’s Environmental Artist-in-Residence team will work with the students to bring a remedial quality to their creations.  By creating mosaic representations of the ambassador species they identified, and through their own messages about the importance of keeping the storm drains clean, the children will help promote protection of their neighboring Stewart Creek.  The mosaic sculptures will be installed alongside storm drains in the neighborhood to encourage neighbors to consider the importance of keeping litter, oil and other waste out of the drains that flow into the creek. The children’s sculptures will also help remind residents of the fragile ecologies of the neighborhood that they all share.