Last night I had the pleasure of showcasing my artwork for the first time in a solo student show, which also served as one of the final steps in earning my degree in Environmental Art and Science. Joined by my family, friends, and respected Drake community members we munched on treats from Gateway Market and talked art and exploration and celebrated Iowa spring being in full swing.
This is the first time I have had this much of my work up at once, and it was truly a pleasure to share it with everyone, and continue to see where people stop to take an extra look at certain aspects over the next two weeks of the show being up in the Weeks Gallery at the Harmon Fine Arts Center. For the past several weeks I had been wrapping up projects in preparation for the show and my studio space was feeling quite overwhelmed with works stacked up against others; it was quite relieving to see that I not only had enough works to fill the gallery space, but also that it became organized in a relatively fluid way.
Included here are some quick snapshots of my works and the space, as well as the writing that was displayed with the works regarding my individualized major as well as the show itself. Formal clear and high quality images will be posted in the coming weeks under the Artist section on this website.
I have not only learned an immense amount but enjoyed every minute of standing in streams, running through prairies, and memorizing seemingly endless family and species names of plants, animals, and insects which not only educated me towards the environmental sciences but encouraged an eagerness and inspirational threads for the artworks I would create.
Individualized Major: Environmental Art and Science
When I began at Drake University I was enrolled in an array of classes aimed at helping me to decide what field I would spend the next four years focusing on. While those courses were interesting and certainly contributing to my growth as an individual, there wasn’t a specific area grabbing my attention. Following a meeting with an advisor regarding mid-semester grades and discussing my feelings about the current classes we began to explore what possible fields existed that I could continue to venture into while staying true to what drove my passions.
From that conversation evolved some great research and discussions with my advisors, who agreed with my findings and dreams that an individualized major, which would merge the studies of Environmental Science and Art, was the best opportunity. By fusing these studies I feel armed with the skills and experience of being an art maker as well as the skills to scientifically access and approach a space. With whatever and wherever I find myself in the future there are skills from these studies that make me more capable to problem solve and creatively answer problems.
My interest in art and wilderness goes back just about as far as I can remember. From weaving leaves together with pine needles in the front yard, to keeping field journals from an array of camping trips, visually communicating my connection, relationship, and experience with the land has always been a part of me. Along with that, having grown up on Lake Michigan, and at a high school surrounded by forest and lakes, water exploration of varying sorts had me experience and investigate this diverse and expansive ecosystem as well. Through an individualized major my passions have been able to be fueled by academics that continue to encourage further investigations of the merging of these disciplines.
In one single moment I feel and see nature in an exponential number of ways. Sight, smell, sound, texture, and even taste are just the beginning. Simultaneously ecological research projects, entomological collection boxes, and botanical classifications collide with my understanding of color, the endless possibilities of materials, and a stream of ways in which to interpret and share my experiences in nature through visually capturing explorations.
My most recent body of work has evolved to largely focus on outdoor explorations and the various ways of representing my discoveries while on land or at sea. Each piece has become individual in its reasoning and roots, focusing on ways to document the processes and journey through a physical space. Inspiration for imagery can spiral from sitting under full-grown Maples on a breezy afternoon, the feeling of having ascended a step rocky hillside, or bobbing 98 miles offshore aboard a tall ship watching the sun set over open ocean.
While some works focus on physically building the surface to capture a single textural sense of light, others reflect on the experience as a whole. From field notes I continue to consider and connect emotional responses with those driven from scientific means. As an outcome, I have created artwork that is the result of my active exploration out of doors with using various art mediums. I explore the various representations that can stem from experiencing the out of doors; each piece has come to act as an enlarged sketch or paint sampling as if from a field journal.
As I stand in a field shoulder high in prairie plants, or in a science lab investigating the morphology of a single beetle species, my eagerness to capture and explore my visual and intrinsic response continues to lead me towards artworks that merge individually diverse disciplines, to better understand my place in the natural world.