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Forest Therapy Immersion: Ephemeral Art in Forest Therapy

Schedule and Location


Saturday, August 31 through Sunday, September 1, 2019, 9:00 a.m. to noon., 3:00 to 6:00 p.m., 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Herbarium Conference Room, Administration and Research Center
Monday, September 2 through Tuesday, September 3, 2019, 9:00 a.m. to noon., 3:00 to 6:00 p.m., 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.,
and Wednesday, September 4, 2019, 9:00 to 11:00 a.m.
Founder’s Room, Thornhill Education Center

The Morton Arboretum
4100 Illinois Route 53
Lisle, Illinois 60532

Fees and Registration

(Fees include admission to the Arboretum)
$898 general/$764 Certified Forest Therapy Guide with Current ANFT or Forest Bathing International Membership

Course Description

Awaken your senses and connect with the forest with a knowledgeable guide, using short-lived art sourced from natural materials. Certified forest therapy guide Brenda Spitzer will show you how creating art from the forest can help you find a sense of place in the landscape.

During this four day Immersion you will be going on daily Forest Therapy walks.  On these walks you will be invited to use your heart, mind and hands to partner with nature to to explore the expressive arts.   You will be using all of your senses, especially the heart sense to notice and honor a sense of place and to develop a deeper connection with the natural world.  This connection can then inspire you to create art which could be a kind of narrative, beyond words, of your personal connection with the natural world.

We make an ephemeral connection with earth art when we build a snowman or sandcastle; carve a Halloween pumpkin or decorate easter eggs.  Such art is often considered child’s play while ‘serious’’ art for adults is often housed in galleries and museums. In the 1960’s and 70’s, however, we developed more environmental awareness. The Land Art Movement began which connected art with the natural world.  Some artists leading this movement, and working on a large scale, were Andy Goldsworthy, Robert Smithson, Steve Tobin, and Nils-Udo.

The land art movement (Tiberghien 1995; Kastner 1998) explores the aesthetic and reconnective power of art as it is embedded in the landscape.   This art makes art out of raw materials of the natural space where it takes place and can be seen in the works of artists such as Andy Goldsworthy (2004). Goldsworthy’s aesthetic could be described as a deep connection and understanding of natural space and place and how art can interweave with nature to represent a narrative of a living space.  Art here represents a pictorial narrative beyond just words and is an attempt to develop a language of human-nature relationships embodied in visual forms.

According to Theresa Sweeney, Ph.D., in her book ‘Eco-Art Therapy’, “The same wordless intelligence that permeates outer nature innately resides within you.  The natural world mirrors yourself back to you. When you spend time with nature, it’s perfection, peace and joys within you come alive.”

Who should attend

This course is designed for forest therapy guides who want to incorporate more art-based invitations into the walks they guide, It will also be relevant to those interested in ecotherapy, art therapy, and ephemeral land-based art using found objects.

Course number



Brenda Spitzer, certified nature and forest therapy guide

Brenda Spitzer is a Forest Therapy Guide for The Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs.  She trained and was certified with Cohort 3 in 2015.  She also has a Bachelor of Arts in Art from Northern Illinois University and Certificates in Botanical art and Illustration and Natural History from The Morton Arboretum.  She introduced the “NatureRX: Forest Therapy Walk” program at The Morton Arboretum in 2016, and has been guiding forest therapy walks at that location for the past 3 years.  She also guides walks for The Western Reserve Special Recreation Association.

Course Details

  • Notes: Held indoors and outdoors, rain or shine. Please dress for the weather, wear comfortable clothing and walking shoes.   Limit 18.
  • Supplies: A hat, sunglasses and mat or towel to sit upon are optional. Lightweight long sleeves and long pants are recommended.  Bring a water bottle, sunscreen, and insect repellent.
  • Recommended ages: For Adults, ages 18 and over

Arboretum class weather, cancellation and refund policies

Forest Therapy Immersion: Ephemeral Art in Forest Therapy