Is There an Andy Goldsworthy in All of Us?

A bright, cold November day in Central Park. Jean Davis, an associate adjunct professor in Pratt Institute’s graduate creative arts therapy department, is leading us in "Environmental Art Therapy." Having already given my workshop for the Expressive Therapies Summit the day before, on Earth Archetypes, I'm eager to relax as someone else leads the way.

Jean divides us into teams and we set off to create art in New York's Central Park, using nature and the art supplies at hand.

My group finds a spot between two trees P1070168and the magic takes hold. With very little discussion, we begin to weave string, leaves, shells and rocks into a beautiful art work that hangs golden leaves, like prayer flags, between two trees. On the ground, a spiral made of leaves.

We work together seamlessly, each drawn to our own particular part of the scheme. One woman is intent on winding the string around the tree trunks, another on collecting leaves, or creating the spiral, and I seem to want to string the leaves so that the light catches them.

As the design develops, strangers stop to stare, or hand us leaves to hang. Children look up in wonder.

I'm reminded of the artist Andrew Goldsworthy, whose organic creations, built using natural elements native to the places in which he works, explore the shifts of space and time. He covers trees with tapestries, builds wooden sculptures to be swept away by rivers and tides, pours his energy into ephemera that is somehow eternal.

I feel a little like Goldsworthy myself, as I see the wind snatching leaves from our composition, eroding our artwork. Later, we will take it down, piece by leaf. And yet, in working with nature's gift, something indelible remains.

Call it joy.