Staff Spotlight: Stewart Seal
Meet Stewart Seal
A graduate of the University of Maryland School of Theatre and Speech, Stewart is a currently employed by The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Prince George's County Department of Parks and Recreation as the County Wide Youth Arts Coordinator. In that role, he is responsible for the development of youth arts programs that merge nature and the arts with after school programs. Stewart provides leadership in implementing the "Get to Know Your Wild Neighbour" Art Contest as part of summer camps and playgrounds, as well as "Art on the Trails" Recycle, Reuse and Decay Innovative Project.
Prior to becoming the Youth Arts Coordinator, Stewart held many other positions in the Commission, including Director of the Montpelier Arts Center, supervisor for the Arts at Harmony Hall and the Public Playhouse, to name a few. Stewart has always remained active in the arts. In fact, he founded the Maryland Presenters Network, a program that is now a part of the Maryland State Arts Council.
Innovative Program Initiative (IPI)
IPI Program Description (Target Market, Program Disciplines, & Attendance)
The Art on the Trails (AOT) program recycles, reuses and repurposes materials found in nature, and transforms them into sculptures or park benches that reflect wildlife and the environment of the trail. The marketing plan includes creating a passport of the art for patrons can discover them along the trails. Once patrons locate the art, they are asked to photograph themselves with it and share the photo on the DPR Facebook page.
AOT targets users of the DPR trail and park system as sculptures are located in regional parks and along various trails. The twenty youth who volunteered last summer learned a number of things about nature including, but not limited to, identifying poison ivy and invasive species, the best types of trees to use for carvings, how to use the tools necessary for carving, and important safety precautions. If you'd like to view any of the art pieces created last summer, visit one of our AOT trails during regular park hours.
Inspiration Behind Idea
While hiking with his with my dogs in his neighborhood park, Stewart noticed a number of downed trees that could be carved into a number of sculptures. A particular down tree piqued his interest-a large white oak about sixty feet in length with a number of branches. He imagined it becoming the Loch Ness Monster with a large rearing head and scales. As he continued to hike, other downed trees further sparked his creativity into the idea that would become Art on the Trails.
Impact/Outcomes of Program
Youth gained an understanding of the artistic process used to create environmental artwork. In addition, this program created public art, which beautified the Department of Parks and Recreation's trail system. Since the implementation of Art on the Trails, trail usage increased as measured by trail counters. The youth who worked on the project had a new sense of ownership and knowledge of the importance of protecting the environment. Those who volunteered their time to the project received community service hours-a total of 560 hours were earned by four volunteers.