by Pamela J. Trow
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There’s A Crystal Clear Pond,
The Unseen World of Water Pollution
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NEA/Pinellas Recovers Grant Update
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It’s hard to believe we’re completing our Pinellas Recovery Grant. There’s A Crystal Clear Pond, The Unseen World of Water Pollution occupied my mind, time and life for a year.
What started as a poem written decades ago manifested into a coloring book and science game, teaching our community about the unseen world of water pollution.
I got to do workshops in nine Pinellas County libraries that attracted adults, children and professionals interested in clean water. I got to collaborate with scientist/artist Jeremiah Tipton PhD, whose mutual passion for art and science added a level of communication for me not easily found among peers.
Through Jeremiah, I met Clare Dennison PhD, in the Scanning Electron Microscopy Lab Facility at USF, where she created the mesmerizing photos we used in the science game.
I wish everyone could have seen the impact of the Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) photos on the children’s faces as they colored with their free coloring pencils in their free coloring books. The 10,000+ magnification photos were of plastics, styrofoam and litter dropped in the pond in the story.
The kids had to guess what objects were the subject of the magnified photos. The photos were magnifications of the littered items before they were in the pond and after three days left in the pond. They saw how the water changed the litter.
But more importantly, we asked them to imagine how these littered items changed the water.
My hopes for this project include planting a seed in these children, as well as helping like-minded adults (who also got the free items) continue to carry the torch for environmental change.
Thank you to the National Endowment for the Arts, Creative Pinellas, and the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners. Thank you for the gifts this grant bestowed on me.
It was a gift to be a footbridge for an issue of great importance to so many of us. It was a gift to do these workshops – and a special thanks to the library employees who helped make the workshops possible.
The children who attended the workshops provided a special gift – the gift of hope for our future. Another gift was the opportunity to provide families with many hours of artistic expression through the coloring book.
Of the many gifts I’ve received through this grant, my most treasured gift is the desire to teach again.
Two years after art school and into the start of a lifetime design career, I got to teach at the Art Institute of Atlanta, 14 years at the Portfolio Center, and in the Continuing Education Program at the Community College of Central Oregon. Scattered among this teaching were workshops for other artists through local professional organizations.
Teaching our workshop audience about water pollution using art and science inspired a great deal of introspection in me. I thought about how amazing it is that a poem I wrote during my first creative job at an advertising agency in Atlanta, Georgia, was still relevant today. I thought about the joy of teaching students seeking careers in the creative disciplines. I thought about the years of experience I had to share.
During this grant period, Creative Pinellas gave me the platform to provide workshops for other artists interested in pursuing wholesaling as another revenue stream. I’ve received feedback from some attendees about how the workshops have helped them on their journey of getting their art into retail environments. I’m doing the workshops via Zoom and have a third series scheduled to start in May (you can email firstname.lastname@example.org, if you’d like more information).
I sincerely believe that the teaching experience this grant gave me helped to confirm my decision that it’s time to give back to my fellow creatives.
To all of you that made this grant a reality, thank you seems to be an understatement.
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