Friday, Oct 2 | 1:15-2:25 pm


Growing Socially Responsible Artists through Sustainable Creative Practices

Sarah Kay Frydenlund

The Visual and Performing Arts Department of Luther College, with the support of the Center for Sustainable Communities, encourages undergraduates to address the larger questions of society and environment at the foundational level. Visual Thinking, a course utilizing interdisciplinary methodologies is designed to facilitate the student in giving effective form to their ideas through research which marries theory and practice. 

A key element of this course is discussion and development of a creative practice, one which is sustainable for the changing demands of work and life. Required for Luther College Art majors, Visual Thinking highlights the multisensory nature of life, culture and experience. Components of the course address the importance of awareness to diverse areas of life and practice. Students are called upon to create compelling, socially engaged arts in both traditional and relational aesthetic formats. This course establishes a critical eye, mind, voice, and encourages broad thinking and exploration of media through research into practices such as drawing, performance and digital film. Independent and collaborative work engages students in conversation with their studio community on concepts such as planetarity, environment and body.

Students in Visual Thinking hone problem solving skills that transfer across media, developing a strong foundation for a sustainable creative practice, one that will prepare them for the changes and needs inherent in creative work. In rapidly evolving technological environments and a world of dynamic social engagement, where politically and economically charged career paths cause students to see themselves as drivers of their experience. Students become sensitive to the relationship of self to society, environment, and culture while expressing interest and desire in recognizing themselves as creative leaders capable of discerning choices responsibly as artists and global citizens.

This presentation explores projects and methods utilized in this course and positive outcomes for pairing sustainability and creative practice education.


Sarah Kay Frydenlund: Since graduating with an MFA in International Practice from University for the Creative Arts, (UK) Minnesota (US) native Frydenlund has continued to explore spatial and social practices in relationship to the creation of identities. As a research assistant for the UCA, Frydenlund supported development of a peer-mentoring program for the university, and ran an independent studio and artist network in Cheltenham before returning to the US in 2012. Her research explores art as educator through diverse creative practice research collaborations, including recent work with Jane Hawley, creator of Movement Fundamentals, a paradigm for dance education.

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Aesthetic Education Informing our Relations with Nature

Zuzana Vasko

If the ecologies in which we find ourselves can be viewed as fields of relationships, how do we educate our younger generation to immerse themselves in these relationships in ways that are not only intelligent, but also perceptive, whole-hearted and generative of their own creative inclinations?  

A personally felt connection with the natural world, especially with the environs close to home, is essential to the kind of ecological awareness that engenders responsibility and stewardship.  Richard Louv goes so far as to say that the preservation of nature depends upon the intimate bond that the younger generation has with it, for they will only be inclined to save what is valuable and well-known to them on a personal level.  This presentation works with the idea that such a personally felt connection is essentially aesthetic in that it involves our senses, emotions and spirit.  Particularly helpful is the Greek idea of aisthesis as described by James Hillman, as it relies on the senses, views the heart as the organ of perception, and considers carefully the life within each thing. 

If, in the education of our younger generation, we can place ourselves more solidly within epistemologies that are aesthetic in this regard and thus deeply relational – particularly when learning about nature and the environment – we come closer to being more personally and spiritually immersed in our ecologies.  This is where arts and aesthetic education have a special place, as the act of creating artwork in response to the natural world – and better yet, in the natural world – encourages us to really see and come to know its special qualities.  It also engenders a connection that is felt, sensual, embodied and affecting of spirit.  


Zuzana Vasko teaches with the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University; her research explores how the arts can be a way of bringing us closer to the natural environment.  In addition to SFU, she has taught art in various other contexts, including schools and community programs.  Her work has been exhibited in various places in BC and the Czech Republic, and her art has recently come to focus on what it means to know place.  She enjoys walking and drawing in the woods close to her home in Maple Ridge.  

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