Professor of Studio Art, Syd Carpenter welcomed the Class of 2014 to Swarthmore College by inviting them to “notice what you notice.” She encouraged the future artists, engineers, sociologists, mathematicians, and linguistics of the class of 2014 to observe, question, and react to the stimuli in their world. She advocated that everyone take notice as you may never know what inspiration will lead to.
As Syd referenced, nature and the garden are great sources of inspiration for people of all professions and walks of life. She noted how a biologist admires the growth pattern on the shell of the common bog turtle. This in turn inspires highly stabilized design for buildings to withstand earthquakes and floods in places like Port au Prince, New Orleans, and villages in Chile, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China.
Also notice how architecture can help create a sense of space from “tonic to toxic.” While giving this presentation on a warm summer evening in the Scott Outdoor Amphitheater, she celebrated that Swarthmore College undertook the development of this tranquil space during World War II (1942). It is space which is “enveloped by a sense of sanctuary,” as compared to turmoil throughout the world at that time.
Gardens and nature can inspire all ages and walks of life. Recently eleven young campers from the mural camp at The Creative Living Room “noticed what they notice” while visiting the Scott Arboretum. This noticing and inspiration led to the creation of Swarthmore’s newest mural between Rutgers and Park Avenues at the Swarthmore Post Office.
I encourage you to visit the Scott Arboretum and “notice what you notice.” Inspiration may lead to you paint a dead tree red, add a new planting to your garden, create a breath-taking canvas of art, or simply allow yourself to find that moment of relaxation you have been searching for.