If you’re looking for an inspirational, creative outlet for your children this summer, or for year-round family entertainment, look no further than Josephine Sculpture Park (JSP), located at 3355 Lawrenceburg Road in western Franklin County. The park, which is free and open every day of the year from dawn until dusk, makes contemporary art accessible, not only to adults, but to children by inviting them to interact with the art by touching, climbing and even painting on selected artworks, according to JSP program director Jeri Katherine Howell.
JSP has hosted programming for children and families ever since Melanie Van Houten opened the park in 2009. The Art in Nature Camp program was developed in early 2020 and is open to children ages 6-10.
“Art in Nature Camp was designed to not only be safe in that it is outdoors, but also to help calm participants’ minds and bodies through mindful artmaking and time in nature,” Howell said.
As well as Art in Nature Camps, JSP offers several family-friendly events throughout the year, including Night Sky Tours, First Sunday Nature Tours and Frankfort Public Art Tours. More information is available at josephinesculpturepark.org.
FRANK. Magazine asked Howell about the Art in Nature Camps at JSP:
FRANK.: Is there a theme for each Art in Nature Camp?
Howell: Each session is inspired by the season. JSP’s organizational mission is to connect people to each other and the land through the arts. One powerful way to connect with the land is to be in tune with its seasons. During camp, we use our senses to be present with the park’s land and wildlife, which inspires our artmaking. Children who have attended all four seasons of camp have been able to learn about and create works inspired by several ecological cycles in nature. Activities incorporate mindfulness, nature connection, artmaking and conservation in an outdoor setting — a wonderful combination of experiences that help participants get creative, calm their mind and body, and be more confident in exploring themselves and new scenarios that may come their way.
FRANK.: What makes JSP Art in Nature Camp unique?
Howell: We are Kentucky’s only sculpture park, which makes the setting for Art in Nature Camp entirely unique. The guest teaching artists are professional, practicing artists from the region and the world. While artists in residence are building their artworks, which are often inspired by the land, campers get to speak with, witness, and sometimes create with these artists during their process. Finally, the conservation projects that we do during camp, such as planting native wildflowers, have a lasting impact on the park. Therefore, campers help make the park what it is. They are part of the art!
FRANK.: What do you hope campers learn from the Art in Nature Camp?
Howell: The curriculum focuses on nature-based arts practices and conservation projects that are designed to enhance participants’ emotional connection to nature. Research in arts and environmental education and ecopsychology suggests that engaging with the arts and connecting with nature can help enhance people’s wellbeing and promote protective factors for resilience among youth.
Research suggests that the more a person feels connected with nature, the more likely it is that they will take action to care for the environment. Nature-based arts activities are a great way to promote nature connection.
So, we hope that campers experience that spending time in nature and making art feels good and is something that they feel empowered to do to care for themselves. We also hope that they feel more connected with nature and are inspired to take action to care for the environment, now and in the future.
We hope to connect children to our diverse community and to nature through the arts. We also hope to show Frankfort children that being an artist is possible, and that making art is accessible, worthwhile and magnificent.
We hope that the experiences children and other visitors have at the park play a role in inspiring a lifelong love for community, nature, and the arts. Long-term, we believe that positive actions inspired by such experiences will make the world a better place.
FRANK.: How do you register?
Howell: At Josephine Sculpture Park’s Art in Nature Camp, children ages 6-10 years old connect with nature each season through artmaking, environmental education and play. Each camp session (winter, spring, summer and fall) lasts six consecutive Saturdays from 10-11:30 a.m. The summer session takes place July 9-Aug. 13 with registration due by July 5. The fall session will be Oct. 15-Nov. 19 with registration due Oct. 11. The registration fee is $100 per child (includes the six days). Families can learn more and register at josephinesculpturepark.org in the events calendar.