OpenGrounds Selects Three Art and Environmental Action Student Scholars

As the culmination of its Arts and Environmental Action initiative, OpenGrounds at the University of Virginia has selected four exceptional students, pursuing three projects, to work with faculty mentors to develop and implement new ideas at the intersection of art, research and scholarship.

With funding from The Jefferson Trust, the $10,000 Art and Environmental Action scholarships are the pilot for the OpenGrounds Student Scholars program. The funded projects will take place in 2014, and will include participation in the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities’ Emerging Creatives Student Conference at Stanford University in January.

The winning proposals include an urban landscape project that creators hope will deter environmentally destructive behaviors, a new media project that highlights the environmental cost of online activities and a music project dealing with the study of wolves in a national park.

The Arts and Environmental Action Student Scholarships are intended to bring students, faculty and scholars together to investigate, understand and reveal the ways in which the arts and sciences work together to push ideas forward and to make information visible to the world.

“The rich array of student proposals for the first OpenGrounds Student Scholarships created a welcome challenge for the multidisciplinary jury, with the selected projects showing the promise of design and the arts in advancing the cultural understanding of complex issues,” said Bill Sherman, founding director of OpenGrounds. The reviewers included U.Va. faculty members from religious studies and environmental sciencesmedicinestudio artlandscape architectureengineering and commerce.

The selected students and projects are:

  • Gwendolyn McGinn and Rachel Vassar, Master of Landscape Architecture candidates, “The Infrastructural Wild,” an urban landscape project that will result in three on-site installations, a field guide and a website depicting three typologies of abandoned urban infrastructure. By engendering an increased appreciation of everyday wild spaces, and encouraging viewers to see beauty and ecological diversity rather than neglect and decay, the creators hope the project will serve as a deterrent for illegal dumping and other destructive activities and be a catalyst for more mindful behavior.
  • Jon Bellona, a Ph.D. candidate in composition and computer technologies, “Carbon Feed,” a new media project that will include the “sonification” – using non-speech audio to convey information or data – of Twitter feeds and a multimedia installation that correlates individual tweets with an accumulation of material in gallery spaces in order to reveal the environmental cost of online behavior and its supportive physical infrastructure. The main installation of Carbon Feed will be held at or near the University in fall 2014. Additional installations may occur at the University of Oregon and the White Box Gallery in Portland, Ore., and include a public artist talk.
  • Erik DeLuca, a Ph.D. candidate in composition and computer technologies, “Community Listening in the Isle Royale National Park,” a music project that blends acoustic ecology, audio documentary, anthropology, ethnomusicology and contemporary electro-acoustic music composition, to trace how DeLuca became part of a dialogue between a team of wolf biologists and a community of park explorers at Isle Royale, an island in Lake Superior. The project will result in a 25-minute radio work, an online “Web environment” (more interactive and immersive than a typical website) that mirrors the listening network as an interactive form, and a concert piece.

The review panel also selected three honorable mention projects that OpenGrounds will advise and support outside of the Student Scholars Program. The projects were proposed by fourth-year undergraduate architecture student Clint Lees; third-year undergraduate engineering student Caitlin Crawford and Master of Landscape Architecture student Amanda Coen.

The scholarships are part of “Changing Views,” a series of programs and events accompanying this year’s “Ansel Adams: A Legacy” and “Looking at the New West: Contemporary Landscape Photography” exhibitions, which were on view at The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia this fall. The Changing Views: Arts and Environmental Action program has explored the overlapping layers of art and science, to nurture and accelerate creative thinking and innovation in new and unexpected ways, Sherman said.

For information about the Art and Environmental Action Student Scholars, visit theOpenGrounds website