Art and Science – Ways of Knowing the Sonoran Desert


In this unique weekend workshop led by Dr. Lee Ann Woolery, we invite you to immerse yourself in the dramatic landscape of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, AZ and engage your creativity to study the Sonoran Desert. You will learn how the arts are a way of knowing the ecology of place through Art-Based Perceptual Ecology (ABPE) methods taught in collaboration with Western science methods. Practicing ABPE in the field provides a shift in awareness, enabling one to:

  • open to detail in the landscape at scales previously unnoticed
  • transform from viewer to active participant
  • be more attentive to the gestures, codes, logos, and signs—the land’s unique vernacular
  • engage sensory capabilities beyond sight, and
  • discover the stories in the land, revealing the environmental history of the Sonoran Desert.

This workshop is open to artists and scientists, practitioners, educators, and researchers. The ABPE practice lends itself well to ecological research, as accessibility to multiple scales in ecosystems is of great relevance to scientists studying global environmental change. In this workshop, you will learn ABPE methods that involve drawing, however, this is not an art workshop, and there are no requirements for art skills or art experience to participate. There is some bending and sitting involved, and moderate walking. A materials list will be forwarded once you have registered.

On Saturday evening, we will meet under the star-studded Arizona night sky and participants will have the opportunity to share their work and receive feedback in a supportive atmosphere.

The workshop will be based at Sonoran Desert Inn and Conference Center, Ajo, AZ. The Conference Center is a unqiue new inn and event venue housed in a former elementary school in Ajo's historic town center. Meals will highlight the flavors of the region with an emphasis on Northern Mexican and Tohono O'odham cuisine. Learn more by exploring  www.sonorancc.com.

Workshop leader Dr. Lee Ann Woolery pioneered Art-Based Perceptual Ecology, a unique research methodology used in collaboration with Western science to study the environment. Woolery is an interdisciplinary scholar, researcher, a practicing artist, and educator of over 30 years. She has taught environmentally focused workshops at Saguaro National Park, AZ; Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, AZ; Red Butte Gardens, UT; and IslandWood, Bainbridge Island, WA. Her doctoral field study in Desert Ecology was conducted in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona and Mexico. For more information on Dr. Woolery’s work, visit www.ecoartexpeditions.com. 

There are two options for registration:

WITH LODGING: includes a full weekend of instruction in the Sonoran Desert, all meals (Friday evening to Sunday breakfast) and 2 nights of accommodations at the Conference Center in a Standard or Deluxe room. Early bird rate before February 10th: $490. After February 10th: $525.

WITHOUT LODGING: includes a full weekend of instruction in the Sonoran Desert and all meals (Friday evening to Sunday breakfast).  Early bird rate before February 10th: $284. After February 10th: $319.

The workshop is only open to 10 participants, so space is limited. Register now to assure your place!

  1. Click here and enter the dates 3/31 - 4/2.
  2. Scroll down and select "Art and Science Workshop With Lodging". If you don't need accommodations, select "Art and Science Workshop No Lodging".
  3. When the pop-up box says "No accommodation has been selected," click "OK." [Accommodations are already included in the package price, unless you selected the "No Lodging" option].
  4. If you register for the "Art and Science Workshop With Lodging" you will be assigned a Standard or Deluxe Room with either one king or two queen beds. Room descriptions are at www.sonorancc.com/accommodations. If you have a preference on room type, please call the Conference Center at 520-775-2565 and their staff will do their best to accommodate your preference.
  5. Fill out all the information and follow instructions to enter your credit card information. Your card will be charged when you submit your registration.

For questions about registration or accommodations, please contact Emily Siegel at emily@sonorancc.com or 520-775-2565. For questions about the workshop contact Lee Ann Woolery at  woolery.la@gmail.com

Cancellation Policy

  • If you need to make a registration cancellation, there is a $100 non-refundable processing fee
  • A written cancellation request must be received in writing by email and USPS mail in order to receive a refund
  • Cancelling a workshop registration 31+ days prior to the workshop, you will be reimbursed any payments already made, minus the $100 non-refundable processing fee
  • Cancelling a workshop registration 30 days or less prior to the workshop, there is no refund of any payments already made.