In this simple pencil drawing depicting the ledge above the Hominey Branch tributary, little shows of my phenomenological exploration of place.

All artwork and photos on this page copyright L.A. Woolery.

In my next drawing, I focus on form and shape, color and line; primary design elements found in nature. In this drawing, you begin to see how the arts offer a language that codifies my embodied experience.

In this drawing of the same site, I explore the use of collage, using mixed media. In this visual narrative you see how the arts act as a language translator and make possible the information exchange necessary to communicate place-based stories of this landscape. Notice the decomposing life seen in the foreground, the decaying body of a sparrow in a mixture of coagulating leaves and debris--a fine example of the nitrogen cycle at work. The body of the sparrow evolved out of the art-making process, it was not at the site. This drawing makes it clear, ABPE practices are a way of knowing the ecology of place.

Art-Based Perceptual Ecology

Dr. Lee Ann Woolery is an interdisciplinary scholar and researcher, a practicing artist and educator of over 30 years. With a focus on divergent ways of knowing, she pioneered Art-Based Perceptual Ecology (ABPE), a unique interdisciplinary approach for ecological research. 

"In the practice of Art-Based Perceptual Ecology, the image, like metaphor, provides a breakthrough into a dimension of intelligibility previously inaccessible, offering a new language, a new understanding of the phenomenon being studied. The job of the image is to fix the place in time and space. The image is the container - it holds the space. The image created in this intentional art making practice represents one moment in the evolutionary history of the land, representing time frozen on the journal page."

"The image created in the ABPE practice becomes a graphic record of the intelligence of one's body in relationship to place, embodiment of the knowledge held within this one landscape. Knowledge held within landscapes can be understood by considering biology, which is the science of life and living organisms. Biology defines the life process of organisms as it involves growth about a point in space. If we recognize a point is a record of, or the static result of dynamic equilibrium, then we know multiple points become patterns. Patterns are the tangible record of interactions between and amongst organisms in the landscape . "

"Making images through Art-Based Perceptual Ecology practices brings one to an awareness of the patterns found at multiple scales in the landscape. The land's patterns, known as the codes of the land's communication system, when revealed, yield the language of place or stories in the land. Ability to read the patterns provides one with clues to the evolutionary history of the landscape." (Woolery, L.A.)

Read about Art-Based Perceptual Ecology in my article "Knowing the language of place through the arts" located on the Johns Hopkins University web site or download it here: