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Artful Environmental Education at Highpoint Center for Printmaking

November 28, 2018

3 kids making printsPrintmaking and environmental education might seem like an unlikely combination. After all, printmakers have historically used many toxic chemicals in the name of art. Acid baths, mineral spirits, and screenprinting emulsion are just a few of the chemicals commonly found in print shops. But Highpoint Center for Printmaking in Minneapolis is taking a more environmentally responsible approach to the art form.

Nestled behind their building, Highpoint has established a small but mighty rain garden that filters approximately 200,000 gallons of rainwater and snowmelt that runs off the building’s roof and parking lot each year. It also plays a surprising role in educational workshops that infuse art-making with an environmental message.

Under the stewardship of Education Manager Tyler Green, Highpoint’s educational workshops now encourage students to protect our shared ecosystems. In partnership with the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, and Green Partners Environmental Education Program, Highpoint has developed a series of environmental workshops for students of all ages. One such offering, called the Rain Garden Monoprint class, is designed to complement science education about the water cycle.

Combining his passions for environmental education and printmaking is especially rewarding for Tyler, an artist who also received a minor in environmental studies. He sees the concrete lessons of the Rain Garden Monoprint workshop as a way to share his personal philosophy of living a sustainable life. “It’s immersive,” he says, reflecting on the effectiveness of Highpoint’s hands-on approach. “Students aren’t just learning about something that happens far away.” Tyler underscores water conservation during clean-up by encouraging kids to use only a small amount of water to rinse materials after the printmaking activity is done.

[Read more on the Clean Water MN blog]