By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Finding art in Yellowstone
travertine shapes
Marsha Lott uses the travertine shapes such as these she finds in Yellowstone in teaching art to her students at EMS.

Most people decide to vacation in Yellowstone National Park because of its scenic beauty and the abundant wildlife there. However, when local art teacher, Marsha Lott, spent a week there recently, she was on the lookout for art.

Lott, art teacher at Ebenezer Middle School in Rincon, explained that art is literally all around — for anyone willing to look for it.

“Nature is just full of shapes, colors and textures — the basic structures of art,” she said.

It leads to a different way of looking at the world around you. While most visitors would be taking photos of a geyser or thermal spring, she would often be getting down on her hands and knees to photograph the delicate lines and colors in the smallest details of her surroundings.

There was one particular thermal area where pine needles had fallen into the water and now were covered with mineral deposits, making them seem more like Christmas tree decorations than just fallen pine needles.

Over a period of days the needles become coated with calcium carbonate and travertine. The water continually flows and coats the needles and steadily builds up the mineralization.

“It’s just beautiful,” she said.

In areas such as the terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs, the water creates virtual sculptures as the mineral coatings are laid down continually. Depending on what other minerals are present, different colors materialize as well. Another contributor to the coloring of the landscape is bacteria. Bacterial mats float in the warm, mineral rich waters, adding their own colors to the backdrop.

It is not uncommon to see thermal areas that boast a vivid blue center, ringed by an orange, yellow or red band, laid down by the bacteria. One area that shows this to its fullest advantage is the Grand Prismatic Springs. To get a better view of the spring, Lott climbed a hill just behind it and photographed it in all its splendor.

“It had this vivid blue center and it was surrounded by bands of yellow, red and orange. You could get a sense of the color from ground level but only from the hill could you really take it all in.”

Far from just filling a scrapbook with beautiful images from Yellowstone, Lott is hard at work creating new art lesson plans for her students, utilizing this newly found art from America’s first national park.  

“I want to teach my students that art is truly all around them,” she said. “I want to teach them to see it and appreciate the beauty of the world around them.”