By Suzanne Vanderhoef
Eco-art is a type of art that uses environmentally sustainable mediums to create work that seeks to call attention to climate change and preserve and improve the state of the natural world.
Jessica Witte is a local eco-artist based here in St. Louis. In her recent project, called “Taking Flight,” she worked with students aged kindergarten through middle school to teach them paper making and print making while learning about pollinators. The paper they made was embedded with wildflower seeds that they ended up planting as part of the project.
“Part of Taking Flight is that it feeds into the collaborative nature of lots of people making small efforts leading to big results,” explained Witte. “And one of the things that pollinators need is host plants and a nectar supply and lots of flowers all throughout the season.”
The first step involved making paper from torn-up egg cartons and sprinkling seeds on top while it dried. The students were also taught about the importance of pollinators while learning hand paper making and printmaking.
The seed paper was used to cover up a mosaic “quilt” made of the print art the students had made. During the final presentation, the students each came up and took off one of the pieces of seed paper to reveal the larger piece, then planted the seed paper in the community garden at the Foundry Arts Center. They also got a second piece of seed paper to take and plant at home.
“It’s kind of showing people working together in order to support wildlife and it’s also showing just the wide range of native plants and the different pollinators and just like individual efforts leading to one big, beautiful thing,” said Witte. “And the larger it is and the more varied it is the more beautiful it becomes.”