Have you ever driven down a road you have driven down a million times before and then one day you recognize something new? Then you find yourself asking, “has that always been there?” You ask your car mate, and they reply, “yup, you’ve never noticed that before?” You scratch your head and wonder how have you missed it all this time? The next time you are on the road, there it is, it has entered your awareness and once you see it you cannot unsee it, your awareness has been forever changed.
Awareness is the state of being conscious of something. Innately, humans are born with a certain amount of awareness, or being conscious of things that threaten our survival. We are born with something called the Survival Optimization System (SOS) which provides us with behaviors to respond to predatory threats quickly and effectively. These are not learned behaviors but are tied into our awareness. For the SOS system to be activated, we must be aware of the threat. This is true for humans and animals, after all, humans are just highly developed animals. The thing that separates humans from other animals is our ability to not only have behaviors associated with the SOS system, but also gain additional awareness tied to learning about our surroundings or other information or topics that enrich our lives. It is through the experience of gaining awareness that our mental borders open and we learn to appreciate new connections in our daily lives.
At Nevada Outdoor School, we are having a new awareness that is really stretching and growing us, and one that we want to share so others can potentially experience a similar awakening. One of the positive side effects of the pandemic is that at the height of the quarantine all sorts of organizations were offering webinars and virtual conferences, and so some of the staff of Nevada Outdoor School attended the Museum’s STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) Conference virtually. From that experience we were added to their mailing list, and then recently into our inbox popped the announcement for the Art + Environment Season. The title alone captured our interest.
The Art + Environment Season is a series of lectures, September through November, that are highlighting land art. Land art is a term that describes art that has been made from natural materials, and it may be built in an outdoor or indoor setting. It appears there is a lot of debate about what land art is and is not, and what to call it. These pieces of art have been named earthworks, Earth art, or environmental art. The movement represented in the Art + Environment Season originated in the 1960’s and 1970’s and the connection that is blowing our minds at Nevada Outdoor School, and therefore increasing our awareness, is the presence of land art in the Great Basin! The open space that Nevada affords as outdoor enthusiasts enjoying the space for hiking, hunting, and ATV riding also attracts artists. An unexpected connection.
The Spiral Jetty created by Robert Smithson in 1970 is located at the
Great Salt Lake and is only one of the many land art exhibits located in
the Great Basin. Learn more by visiting https://www.diaart.
While listening to one of the lectures, the artist mentioned the importance of the Leave No Trace concept when visiting the land art. Because these pieces of art are not protected inside the walls and state-of-the-art security systems of a museum, they are highly vulnerable to mistreatment. The artist was questioning how to teach people about the etiquette of Leave No Trace and art. As we have written about previously, the idea of having an outdoor ethic or system by which decisions are made related to the outdoors is not only important for the protection of our environmental and natural resources, but also for the preservation of land art. Amazing awareness and unexpected connection!
If the Art + Environment Season interests you, learn more at https://nevada-art.netlify.app/. The season is not free but is certainly worth the investment for increasing your awareness. In addition, watch for future offerings from Nevada Outdoor School as we expand our understanding of “outdoor enthusiasts”. Our community events and skill workshops are starting this month in both Winnemucca and Elko. Visit nevadaoutdoorschool.org to learn more about opportunities that will expand your awareness and hopefully make unexpected connections in your brilliant mind.