With Covid 19 restrictions lifted, and children attending in person class rooms again, The Fall Leaf Project was held at the West Point Grey Preschool at Aberthau, in Vancouver BC. The preschool teachers Mrs. Miranda and Mrs. Alissa walked the students aged 4 to 5 years of age in the vast gardens at West Point Grey Community Centre to collect Fall leaves to create digital collages. Afterwards, the students created their digital collages with the leaves they collected with IMAPON Artist/Digital Technician Rob Scharein.
A flatbed digital scanner was used to create the collages. The children were assisted but not coaxed into any type of creation other than what they wanted. They learned about which side of the leaf would scan best, to take direction, and explore the possibilities of art within Nature and Technology.
Comments made by the children during the Fall Leaf Project:
Click or tap on an image to see it at a larger size.
FROM IMAPON Artistic Director Laura Lee Coles
Early on the sense of an interconnected relationship between the human and the non-human realm was defined as one of fluidity and permeability. Early humans held a tightly woven relationship with the non-human realm, yet we find ourselves estranged and moving further from those sensibilities as we immerse ourselves deeply in our digital technologies, social media platforms and consumer driven culture.
It seems it has become necessary to find a way to include early on in school curriculum, sense-based learning opportunities that focus on nurturing aesthetic readiness so that associations and connections to living nature are offered in tandem with the introduction to digital technologies and the ethics related within those experiences and conversations. This inclusion may provide most students the ability to continue to transform this newfound human-technology-nature awareness over time so that respect for the natural non-human world around also instills a sense of respect of each other and wisdom of environmental stewardship.
E.O. Wilson opined that it is important that an understanding of the sense of place is necessary and a redesigning of schools and campuses that replicate natural systems and functions is warranted:
We will not enter this new kingdom of sustainability until we allow our children the kind of childhood in which biophilia can put down roots.
Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, informs us that:
…[I]n an age or rapid environmental, economic and social transformation, the future will belong to the nature-smart—those individuals, families, businesses and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real. The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.
 Louv has inspired a movement, Children Nature Network (childrenandnature.org). The network believes that “the well-being of children and the wild places we love are inextricably linked.”
This Neighbourhood Small Grant project was funded by the Vancouver Foundation and administered by Kitsilano Neighbourhood House. Additional support was provided by Decolonization, Arts and Culture with Vancouver Park Board via the IMAPON artist residency at McBride Park Fieldhouse (2019–2024). IMAPON’s community partnerships mean a lot to us as a small arts organization. We are grateful for the support and happy to be able to hold the workshop in 2022!