Ephemeral Art: Inspired by Andy Goldsworthy

Kristin Teigen
April 25, 2014

I want to be a crafty mother, one that encourages creative expressions at every turn, and allows for the flourishing of my children's artistic talents. Yes, I want to do this, but then, given the choice between hauling out the glue gun, paints and glitter (and contemplating the clean-up process after) or reading a book on the couch, I almost always choose the latter.

There's a different way to do create art, however, that may be perfect for my kind of sensibility. Maybe yours, too. The artist Andy Goldsworthy has pioneered the concept of ephemeral or transient art—meaning, in a way, the creation of art as you go through your everyday life. Creating this art is not necessarily about ending up with a final project, but rather the process of getting there.

So what does that look like? Well, there are some examples here. By looking at them, you can imagine that you're taking a walk with your child and you come across a tree that has lost its leaves. What sort of design, image, sculpture, can you make from the leaves before you go on your way? Or, think of a trip to the beach, and imagine what sort of sculpture you could make with your child. Driftwood, seaweed, sand, and shells all part of a lovely creation to be enjoyed by every passerby.

By now, you've probably guessed that a central idea behind Andy Goldsworthy's concept is the intersections of art and nature. By exploring these intersections, not only will your children be delving into their own sense of creativity, they will also be discovering and appreciating aspects of nature that they would perhaps not have even been given attention before. As Goldsworthy has written, "The separation between them [art and nature] is partly an illusion of our time, for science and art share much."

You don't have to spend all of your time outside to do this, though. Some of the art promoted by Andy Goldsworthy can be created out of found objects in your home, from materials that don't fall narrowly into the realm of traditional art supplies. Grocery sacks, junk mail, old toothbrushes, milk jugs, whatever you can think of, may be put to use creating a work of art. Along with these pieces of art, children may feel inspired to write a poem, or draw a picture the further expresses what their piece makes them feel.

And one of the best parts? You can do all of this without having cleaning up glitter. Now how perfect is that?


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