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Michigan State University

Art and Nature in the Beal Botanical Garden

Aristotle said that “art not only imitates nature, but it also completes its deficiencies.” Artists are consistently inspired by nature, but the arts also provide new ways of seeing and experiencing the natural world around us.

At the Beal Botanical Garden, art and nature come together to celebrate the interconnectivity of people, plants, and place. This story brings together students artists—poet Mikayla Thompson, musicians Ben Kessler and Catherine Lee, and illustrator Kathiely Rivera Torres—to discuss the ways in which this connection between art and nature inspires their work, deepens their understanding of the world around them, and helps them nurture their roots here at MSU.

Mikayla Thompson is a reconnecting descendent of the Cherokee Nation studying Linguistics and Indigenous Studies at Michigan State University, and was one of the winners of the Nurture Your Roots creative writing contest for Beal Botanical Garden in 2023.

Catherine Lee and Ben Kessler are two MSU College of Music students that form Percussion Duo, and were performers in 2023’s Music and the Garden outdoor concert series in Beal Botanical Garden.

Kathiely Rivera Torres was a graduate assistant at Beal Botanical Garden supporting artmaking activities for visitors, and reconnects to her Puerto Rican culture through plants.

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