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Each year, art and science teachers are invited to Art and Ecology workshops that link Plein Aire landscape painting and observational drawing to salt marsh ecology and climate change impacts on coastal ecosystems. Nearly 30 teachers per year participate in these professional development opportunities, and over half return for a 2nd workshop.

Members of the Art & Ecology program at VCR LTER.

Members of the Art & Ecology program at VCR LTER.
Credit: Cora Ann Johnston

Workshops focus on the shared use of observation in science and fine arts – science is used to enhance artistic perception, while art is used to document natural history and change along the coast.

Each attendee contributes a work of art to a permanent collection housed at the Coastal Research Center or University of Virginia’s (UVA) main campus. Artwork and essays are exhibited at the Barrier Islands Center Museum and the Science and Engineering Library at UVA. Pieces have also been displayed at national conferences, the LTER ASM, and NSF headquarters.

A recent evolution of the program has developed into “Ghosts of the Coast,” an exploration of VA’s coastal edge by local artists and regional scientists. Together, they are discovering the ghostly world of standing dead forests that mark the transition between “high and dry” and the salty marshes retreating from our rising ocean.


  • Linda Blum, UVA Environmental Sciences
  • Alice McEnerney Cook, art instructor
  • The Nature Conservancy

Founded by: Art Schwarzschild, UVA Environmental Sciences

To learn more, visit Teachers & Educators on the UVA Cultural Research Center’s website.

Project Status: Ongoing