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Exhibit presents fresh look at sustainability

January 11, 2008

Can visual art contribute to our understanding of sustainability?

That is the question behind an exhibit in the offices of the Institute for Humanities Research (IHR),
titled “Sustainability and the Visual Arts,” on display through Jan. 31.

“The premise of this exhibition was the belief that while sustainability was a political buzz word and much scholarly research has been invested in the natural sciences, far less consideration has been given to the importance of the humanities and the arts to analyzing and tackling the issues of sustainability,” says professor Sally Kitch, director of the IHR. “Thus, through a public regional call to artists we sought to create a visual art exhibition interrogating sustainability across disciplinary boundaries.”

The exhibit includes 26 works by eight artists, ranging from photographs to pieces made with beeswax and used paper towels.

“Sustainability and the Visual Arts” is part of the IHR’s effort to broaden the university’s definition of sustainability “by highlighting the contributions of the humanities and arts,” Kitch says.

The humanities and the arts can “help redesign the future, redefine the relationship between human beings and nature, and reformulate the connection of human societies to the Earth and all of its systems,” she says.

Some of the works in the exhibit invite the viewer to think about landscape as “a companion in our experience of life’s processes,” Kitch says, while others confront waste, water use, and how the natural world sustains our bodies and our cultures.

The exhibit can be viewed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., in room 107 of the Social Sciences Building. Catalogues are available that include photos, the artists’ statements and curatorial essays.

For more information, call (480) 965-3000.