by Paul Mirocha
A brief history of arts on Tumamoc
In 2010, writer and ethnobiologist Gary P. Nabhan, suggested that Tumamoc develop an artist- and writer-in-residence program, inspired by the work done at the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest in Oregon. 1In 2003 the The Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature, and the Written Word was established at the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest in Oregon. This initiative, which started a writers-in-residence program at Andrews Forest, is a collaboration between the Oregon State University Department of Philosophy, the US Forest Service, and the Andrews Forest Long-Term Ecological Research program, another LTER funded by the National Science Foundation to encourage long-term, place-based research in a network of sites in different ecosystems across North America.
Tumamoc Hill is now part of this network of twenty one LTEReflections sites around North America. The idea was to provide periods of residence on-site to applicants, who would publish and present their work to the community, increasing understanding and the perceived cultural value to the specific place.
Then Tumamoc Director Mike Rosenzweig invited me to be the first artist-in-residence at Tumamoc Hill. I was given office space and a certain amount of creative freedom to develop arts activities that fit the mission of Tumamoc. I was given a volunteer Research Associate position through the US Southwest Center. With this title, CAT card, and room privileges card, I was able to receive a key to the Tumamoc gate and office buildings.
Having access to the buildings and gate allowed me to invite other artists to do place-based art and outdoor drawing and painting on the Hill. I designed a blog, TumamocSketchbook.com, to record and archive my own activities and that of others on Tumamoc.
There are many reasons that artists and writers are drawn to Tumamoc. Besides the rich and diverse subjects available and the natural beauty of the place, the long-term ecological research and history at the Desert Lab offer inspiration and a chance to interact with researchers. Advantages to artists working outdoors on-site include access to a wild natural place, while still having a base with shelter, water, a small kitchen, restrooms.
This Piece of Earth
The book, This Piece of Earth: Images and Words from Tumamoc Hill, (TPOE) published in 2014 by Tumamoc: People and Habitats featured artwork created on-site by Tumamoc artists and a project by the POG Poetry Group in 2012.
In 2013, based on the TPOE book, Tumamoc artists and writers were invited to submit a proposal, which has been accepted, for a chapter in an upcoming special issue of the peer-reviewed publication, Journal of the Southwest, in collaboration with Next Generation Sonoran Desert Researchers (N-Gen). All of the artists and writers involved heard talks by Desert Lab researchers, went with them to visit field sites, and had access to these sites as needed. The work produced came directly out of this experience. Most of these people had gone through either the early Tumamoc docent program, or various educational presentations on Tumamoc, were highly educated, motivated, and trusted by the Tumamoc staff.
Arizona Commission on the Arts Grant
In 2014, Tumamoc received additional recognition from the State of Arizona through an Artists Research and Development Grant to Paul Mirocha for a proposal called Tumamoc: A Community Icon.
In that context, the small arts program clearly has a place in the Tumamoc mission to promote research and educational outreach that deepens our understanding of our place in the Sonoran Desert and that of the community.
The Tumamoc Transdisciplinary Arts Program
A collaboration between The College of Science Desert Laboratory on Tumamoc Hill and UA?s Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry transforms the popular walking spot into a place where artists and scientists create together.
Read the full article: On Tucson’s Tumamoc Hill, Art and Science Meet by the University of Arizona office of Research and Discovery and Innovation.
In March 2019, Roseann Hanson joined the Tumamoc team as the new coordinator for the Art and Science Program. She oversaw the establishment of the Tumamoc Arts Working Group, teaches two workshops at Tumamoc (nature journaling and nature writing, with her husband, Jonathan Hanson), and leads free nature journaling and field sketching walks on the Hill every second Sunday.
We are looking forward to growing our team and program in the coming years.
Paul has worked as a professional illustrator, graphic designer, and photographer in Tucson for about 30 years now. A lot of kids’ picture books on weird animals and plants have his name on them, as well as science textbooks, adult novels, nature writing, and interpretive museum exhibits. You can find out more about it at my web site: www.PaulMirocha.com. Illustration and design is my full-time job. My personal work is mostly in secret sketchbooks. This one is going public.
Roseann Hanson is a naturalist, artist, and explorer who has been keeping science-based nature and field notes journals for 40 years. She studied journalism and ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona, and has worked in the American Southwest, Mexico, and East Africa as a conservationist, naturalist, and writer. She has authored a dozen natural history and outdoor books, including the Southern Arizona Nature Almanac with her husband Jonathan Hanson, and San Pedro River: A Discovery Guide, both of which include her nature journal data and art. Roseann is a lapidary, metalsmith, and watercolor artist, and for several years she has worked on significant cultural heritage projects, including long-term work with the South Rift Land Owner’s Association – an all-Maasai cultural preservation group. Her diverse work has involved tens of thousands of miles of overland driving experience on four continents, from the deep backcountry of Mexico’s Sierra Madre to Ethiopia’s Omo Valley, and from Arctic Canada to the deserts of Australia’s Red Centre. Roseann enjoys integrating conservation, science, outdoor skills, and cultural awareness into her work. She was named a Fellow of both the Explorers Club in the U.S. and the Royal Geographical Society for her conservation and expedition work. http://tumamoc.arizona.edu/people/roseann-hanson
|1||In 2003 the The Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature, and the Written Word was established at the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest in Oregon. This initiative, which started a writers-in-residence program at Andrews Forest, is a collaboration between the Oregon State University Department of Philosophy, the US Forest Service, and the Andrews Forest Long-Term Ecological Research program, another LTER funded by the National Science Foundation to encourage long-term, place-based research in a network of sites in different ecosystems across North America.|