Erik Westerlund, an interpretive ranger in Yosemite, came to our classroom yesterday. He gave an excellent interactive presentation. He engaged the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th graders by beginning his presentation with a song that made us all proud to be mountain people. He taught us how to yodel! We then learned about an artist named Charley Harper who created art of the natural world, especially of birds. Charley created works for the National Park Service.
We studied one of Charlet Harper’s prints of Yosemite and Ranger Erik helped us notice the small details in the print. Some of the details included: a shooting star wildflower, snow plant, ladybugs, a brown bear, a waterfall, a hidden upside-down squirrel, raccoon, quail, robin, deer, woodpecker, grosbeak bird, towhee, scrubjay, and a tiger swallowtail. He taught us about these flora and fauna of the lower montane ecosystem, which one group in 5th and 6th grade just finished researching in science. The kids loved the “Wheel of Fortune” game he used to teach with. Our take away message from his presentation was that just like in art, nature makes us want to revisit an area over an over again to continue noticing details. Thank you Erik Westerlund!
“When I look at a wildlife or nature subject, I don’t see the feathers in the wings, I just count the wings. I see exciting shapes, color combinations, patterns, textures, fascinating behavior and endless possibilities for making interesting pictures. I regard the picture as an ecosystem in which all the elements are interrelated, interdependent, perfectly balanced, without trimming or unutilized parts; and herein lies the lure of the painting; in a world of chaos, the picture is one small rectangle in which the artist can create an ordered universe.” -Charley Harper