This research examines the relationship of art making to the universal energy and aliveness of the natural world and asserts that the West has overlooked this connection. The research depicts the art making process as a flow of resources between the physical and invisible dimensions of the universe as the artistic form takes shape, awakening the individual to an interconnected world and our reciprocal need to nurture nature’s well-being as our own. Indigenous and East Asian cultures understood these connections between art making and the larger universe and the limits within which the natural world and all its inhabitants could flourish. Understanding the art making process through this lens presents an alternate perspective for how we know the world in which we live, how we understand the art making process within our world and, subsequently, how we might think about environmental education within this integrated context. Long before the over reliance on Western science and the rational mind created the current imbalance in our relationship with the natural world, the human / more than human communities worked together to maintain the uninterrupted flow of this energetic dimension. The concept of systems thinking provides a Western understanding for the interconnectedness of the holistic perspective. As we explore the role of art making in both the Native American and traditional East Asian literature, we get a sense of where art making belongs within a holistic perspective and its ties to the health and well-being of the universe and its inhabitants. The takeaway is that the practice of art making can be a catalyst for understanding sustainable patterns of behavior that nurture the natural world.
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Thesis advisor: MacKinnon, Allan
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