During the summer of 2015, I joined a program (Art & Bio Collaborative) that allowed me to travel to Puerto Rico to do artistic biological field studies. This experience was so profound and full of activities that explaining the entire program in one post just isn’t possible, thus this one is going to focus on my experiences in the Puerto Rican desert, Guanica!
Our travel to Guanica began in the daylight where we all separated to create our own independent bio art installations and assess the natural surroundings. This was particularly relaxing because I found myself completely alone in a desert, being able to just take in the moment I was in and process everything that I was experiencing. Due to this slower experience, I was able to discover some amazing smaller life forms and more detailed observations. There were beautiful spiders, many of the desert rocks were porous, and there were tons of crystals hiding in clusters of rocks. I collected quite a few samples because I’m a shameful rock hoarder!
As it began to get dark, we used flashlights and bug boxes to capture and collect the local insects to observe and draw them. We also were all given UV lights to find and catch scorpions. They glow in the dark when UV light is emitted onto them and this allowed us to see them in detail up close and draw them as well. All of the creatures collected were unharmed and released where they were collected from.
If anyone is interested in science, art, and exploring them through nature with a group of like-minded individuals, I would highly recommend joining the Art & Bio Collaborative program. They explore through Puerto Rico, but they also have more extensive programs that run through the deserts near Arizona and New Mexico where you can camp instead of having provided housing.