Above Thumbnail sketch ideas visualizing the importance of pollinators, Ysemay Dercon

art+science workshops


Our workshops are designed to give artists, designers and writers the opportunity to meet and collaborate with scientists who work in conservation. Participants practice using visual art, design or the written word to make science - botany, conservation biology, endangered species protection, evolutionary biology, landscape ecology, wildlife management, and zoology - accessible, meaningful, and relevant. Together, both artist/designer/writer and scientist find new ways to interpret, visualize, and communicate the science of saving species. (In the future we hope to offer workshops for musicians and performance artists.)

Our workshops are typically hosted by an art gallery, library, museum, or school. Potential audiences include educators, ranging from middle school teachers to college professors; curators at museums, nature centers, science centers; student, amateur, and professional artists and designers, writers, and scientist-artists. 

The workshop topic - saving species, the wildlife trade, urban wildlife, or another topic or topics used as practice for visualizing science - depends on the venue and audience. For example, the material presented in our "Art and Science of Saving Species" workshop includes an overview of the six major "extinction drivers," and various examples of animals in trouble that either have, or could, benefit from visual art or literary intervention. The material in the “Wildlife Trade Art and Science” and “Art and Science of Urban Wildlife Conflict” workshops is more focused, touching on three extinction drivers - agriculture/farming, global trade, and habitat loss (the other three are climate change, emerging diseases, and hunting/fishing) and is drawn from our two traveling exhibits. 

Workshop goals & FORMAT


The goal of each workshop is to give participants an opportunity to practice using visual art or the written word to visualize and communicate the science behind saving species.

The workshop begins (the evening before or morning of) with Dr. Lucy's TEDx talk, updated to the present; she offers an overview of the dire situation facing the animal kingdom today, the importance of engaging more of the public in conservation, and the potential for doing so by reconnecting the arts and sciences. She includes examples of works of art ,design, and literature (poetry, short stories) created by her students and other Creature Conserve collaborating artists.

From there, the format is science presentation/sketch/crit/sketch again. The workshop is a series of brief presentations by invited scientists whose work is relevant to the theme. Artists/designers or writers and scientists work in teams to generate at least a dozen ideas - "thumbnail" sketches for the artists/designers and short sentences or mind maps for the writers - in response to the presented material, which the group then critiques. Depending on time, there can be several crit rounds. Although the ultimate goal is artwork that engages new audiences in new ways, the more important and immediate goal is to practice idea generation. These workshops are also an excellent opportunity for collaborators to find each other (artist, designer, scientist, writer.)  


Workshops can be free to the public or fee-based. The instructors receive a reasonable honorarium for their time and reimbursement for travel expenses, if any. The host institution offers the honoraria. Dr Lucy’s honoraria are donated in full to Creature Conserve.

The host institution may make the workshop free to the public, or they may ask participants to pay a fee or make a donation to Creature Conserve. The workshops can be offered as part of an ongoing fee-based program looking for new programs or content, such as an after hours school program, continuing education art or literature program, a summer camp or after hours museum program.

PAST workshopS 2018

"Wildlife Trade Art and Science" at Tiffen University, Tiffen Ohio (March 2018)

"Art and Science of Urban Wildlife Conflict" at National Museum Wildlife Art, Jackson Hole WY (April 2018)

"Art and Science of Saving Species" at GreenHill Arts Center, Greensboro NC (May 2018)

Writing to Co+Exist with Urban Wildlife” at the Rhode Island School of Design, supported by Frequency Writers (August 2018)


As part of a celebration of the accomplishments of internationally renowned zoological medicine veterinarians Drs. Michael and Suzanne Stoskopf, Creature Conserve will be running two workshops in June 2019 at NC State University. These workshops will be open to the public as well as scientists participating in the “Towards a Better Planet” symposium. The detailed descriptions follow:

Art/Science Workshop 1: Art of Communicating Science - Seeing (understanding) Through Looking, and Looking through Seeing

[Led by Dr. Lucy Spelman, who teaches an interdisciplinary course on this topic at the Rhode Island School of Design]

This workshop invites participants to improve their skills in communicating and illustrating science. In the process, they will discover that science communication is more than science education. Delivering the facts through clear and concise infographics for a poster or textbook is indeed an important objective. But science made visual can be used in other ways, too. Art informed by science can be controversial, emotive, entertaining, persuasive, and surprising. Additionally, we explore the difference between looking (observing) and seeing (understanding.) Once we understand (see) what something is, we look at it differently. [Speakers from the symposium or Invited local scientists] will present their science. Through a series of exercises, workshop participants will practice making science relevant, meaningful, and interesting to a general audience by making it visual using simple sketches. The focus is on idea generation, not artistic rendering. Open to all.

Art/Science Workshop 2: The Field Notebook - Documenting Nature

[Led by artist Emily Poole]

This workshop explores the many ways we document nature, in the field as well as in the studio. Typically, field biologists keep detailed notes and a few sketches, artists the opposite--lots of sketches and a few notes. And yet both have the same goal: to understand the natural world and make sense of it, to see rather than look. In this way, the process of art and science are similar: artists and scientists make observations, ask questions, and share their interpretations with others. For both, the experience is often as important as the end result. Where they differ, however, is in the final form. Art is a universal language, whereas science is highly technical. This workshop explores where art and science overlap: the practice of keeping a field notebook. Participants will learn a variety of strategies for observing and documenting nature. They will have the opportunity to compare and contrast different notebook styles, depending on individual ways of seeing and understanding. How does the field notebook of a plant biologist compare to that of an industrial designer or an animator? Participants will also be encouraged to start their own personal field notebook practice. Open to all.


For more information or if you are interested in a workshop, please email us at connect@creatureconserve.com