Connecting kids with nature through art

Skiles Roberts-Salvador, a student from New Hope-Solebury School District, with her photo (green above) of a breadfruit.

Feb 21, 2014

Skiles Roberts-Salvador is in fourth grade, and this year, her photo of a breadfruit is going to be in the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Philadelphia Flower Show, the largest and longest-running indoor flower show in the world.  She’s pretty excited about that.

Delaware Valley College partnered with New Hope-Solebury School District to create a display for the event, which runs Saturday, March 1 through Sunday, March 9 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. 

This year’s show “ARTiculture,” celebrates the connection between art and horticulture. Floral and garden designers will be displaying exhibits that are inspired by works of art in some of the nation’s finest museums.

DelVal’s exhibit, “Breakout!,” includes artwork created by students from New Hope-Solebury School District. The display incorporates glimpses of nature through the eyes of children in the district. The goal of the project is to raise awareness about the widening gap, or disconnect, between people, particularly children, and the outdoors. Kids who have art in the show will be taking a field trip to the event March 5. 

“This generation is indoors more and there’s more isolation with technology,” said Michael Fleischacker, chair of DelVal’s landscape architecture and environmental sciences department. “We’re asking guests to break out of their humdrum world, get away from their screens, and into the world of nature.”

Students in DelVal’s Flower Show course work with other students, alumni, faculty and staff volunteers on an exhibit each year. They are graded on everything from design to staffing the display. DelVal students met with students from New Hope-Solebury School District in the fall to explain the display they were looking to create. 

Dr. Wilbert Turner Jr.

Delaware Valley College hosted Flower Show Preview Night Feb. 11. Parents and students from New Hope-Solebury School District attended to see art that was created by students in grades K-12. The art will be part of DelVal's exhibit in the Philadelphia Flower Show. From left: DelVal Assistant Professor Howard Eyre, Sophia Tasoluk, a student from New Hope-Solebury School District, New Hope-Solebury Lower Elementary School Principal Ken Silver, Antonio Patino, a student from New Hope-Solebury School District, K-5 Art Teacher Mark Mannion, and Michael Fleischacker, chair of DelVal's landscape architecture and environmental sciences department.

About 1,400 New Hope-Solebury School District students were asked to think about nature and what it means to them. They created everything from carvings of beatles to photos of pine cones. Then, teachers chose about 39 of those pieces to be part of the display.

Mark Mannion, a K-5 art teacher, asked his classes to consider why people aren’t in nature as much and had them actively seek out nature by bringing in items from their yards.

“Once they started working they really got into it,” said Mannion. “It was interesting to see what they picked out to bring in. Some kids never noticed Osage oranges before, which are all over New Hope and were examining them for the first time. They would come into the room just to check out the items, or even just to smell the room.”

Mannion said being part of the exhibit not only makes kids more aware, but it gives them a real sense of pride.

“It’s a huge honor,” said Mannion. “Some of them may be thinking ‘OK I could do something like this when I grow up.’ It opens up a new world to them.”

Ken Silver, principal of the district’s Lower Elementary School said his goal is to teach the kids to be protective and respectful of nature.

“DelVal has been really generous with time and energy and has brought in experts in landscape design and horticulture to meet with and collaborate with our students and teachers,” said Silver.

The collaboration wasn’t the first and likely will not be the last. The College and the district have partnered on projects in the past, including an outdoor classroom, which the DelVal students designed and built for the Lower Elementary School.


Antonio with his art

Antonio Patino, a student from New Hope-Solebury School District shows Russell Redding, dean of agriculture and environmental sciences at Delaware Valley College, his carving of his pet beatles.

Tickets: For more information, or to get your tickets to check out this year’s show visit:  One adult general admission ticket is $27 online. General admission box office tickets are $32 each for adults. Proceeds from the event support the work of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.