Speaker Says Art is Essential to Science, Learning

One man’s efforts to build poignant bridges between the natural world and the world of one’s imagination were on view on April 7 when native son Peter Stone brought his brand of creative intuition and expression to the Marion Art Center.

Hosted by a coalition of local land trusts from Rochester, Marion and Wareham, Stone’s themes of nature, animals, and the relationship between symbols in the natural world and mankind’s creative predisposition were on full display.

The desire to understand and make sense of the world around us in ways that are non-lineal isn’t new, yet this artist has spent his career working towards helping young and old alike do just that through visual arts, through stories, through a deep understanding and appreciation for how children learn.

Stone describes himself as an educator, environmentalist, painter, author, and a mythologist who spent several decades traveling the globe studying everything from decorative arts to ancient social structures. He also kept a focus on the reality that mere mortals profoundly impact the environment in devastating ways.

Before delving into the plight of whales, Stone’s presentation asked the audience to see the geometric symbols that exist in nature, to find the common ground in all cultures throughout time, and then to draw upon those to gain a deeper appreciation for the natural world so dependent on human compassionate conservatorship.

On display were several oil paintings done by Stone whose pieces have been hailed for this “luminous” quality as well as for their interpretative themes of animals in mythological ways. And that ability to transport the viewer from the commonplace to another reality – a mythical setting where it is possible to hear the whales’ opera under the surface of the ocean or see an eight-sided star in celestial bodies – is carried over in his thoughts on education.

Stone is a strong proponent for allowing children to roam the inner-workings of their creative imaginations, to allow all forms of art to flow through science and math skill building.

“You can’t do the science if you don’t have the art piece,” Stone declared.

Stone said, “There is a lot of contemporary neuroscience about how we learn visually and through stories.” He said that today’s educational structure that emphasizes mainly the four aspects of the acronym S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), along with standardized testing, is missing a critical element – Art.

“By cutting out art we have taken away emotion, and children’s ability to tell stories,” said Stone.

As an educator, artist, and mythologist, Stone said, “Art helps us learn.” He emphasized that educational constructs need to employ the “art voice” along with the “science voice.”

“Science without emotion has no story to tell,” believes Stone.

On full display was Stone’s other passion, one he shares with environmentalists around the globe – the plight of whale populations and especially the endangered right whales.

Calling humans “two-leggeds,” Stone discussed the struggle of migrating whales along the eastern seaboard where everything from fishing nets to sonar pollution have nearly brought the whale population down to a low point of no return. He said that today there are approximately 400 right whales. The ‘no-return’ number is 300, he said.

“What’s going on below?” Stone pondered aloud. “We don’t do this well as a culture. We need to take a holistic viewpoint using intuitive senses.” He likened humans to ostriches regarding our ability to ignore threats all around us and to the animals.

On this night, Stone’s strongest message was a simple one, but one he believes is absolutely necessary to human development – art. That by giving children a rich atmosphere filled with artistic avenues of exploration, not only would students thrive, they would excel; and as the stewards of this small blue planet they will inherit one day, children are the key holders to a world where the whales may live in harmony with humankind.

To learn more about Stone’s art and books, you may visit www.petercstonestudioes.com.

By Marilou Newell

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