Art Exhibit Emphasizes Sustainability at the College

Art Exhibit Emphasizes Sustainability at the College

It’s a rare occasion when students, faculty and staff convene on a single project, but the College of Charleston’s new Quality Enhancement Plan — also known as QEP — appears to have that kind of gravitational power. And that’s just what’s on display with “Building Bridges Over Troubled Water,” the new art exhibit that opened recently on the second floor of the College’s Addlestone Library.

The show — which includes works depicting student and faculty projects and research on sustainability — includes student and staff work and is curated by students in Joanna Gilmore’s anthropology course Museum Interpretation and Audiences. The students intended for the exhibit to serve as an illustration of the College community’s commitment to enhancing sustainability literacy, the focus of the College’s new Quality Enhancement Plan.

“The exhibit is organized to represent the goals of the QEP, which include building awareness, synthesizing and integrating knowledge, skill building and competency learning, experiential learning and practice, and producing change agents for resiliency,” wrote students in the class.

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Savannah Freeman's piece, titled "Nuture" sits among the works at the exhibit.

First-year student Savanna Heim’s piece, titled “Nuture” sits among the works at the exhibit.

First-year student Savanna Heim contributed a mixed-media sculpture of the female body called “Nurturer.” Flowers modestly cover the private parts of the sculpture in an attempt, explains Heim, to assert that a woman’s sexuality should be embraced for its beauty and not shielded by society.

“My piece is about the power of women,” she says. “About their ability to nurture and bring new life.”

Heim created the sculpture for her First Year Experience course Introduction to Sculpture.

“Part of the intent of that class is to help students think about the process of creating and viewing art in context, and that means taking into account the social, environmental and economic dynamics at play,” she says.

Faculty from the library also contributed to the exhibit, in particular Mary Jo Fairchild and Jolanda-Pieta Van Arnhem. They both helped to plan, orchestrate and install the exhibit.

“This has been an exciting project to work on,” says Fairchild. “Our hope is that it will further engage students and faculty by not only enhancing awareness around issues relating to sustainability literacy, but also by inspiring them to creatively and intellectually contribute to future iterations of the exhibit as the QEP process unfolds.”

According to Visiting Assistant Professor Todd LeVasseur, who directs the QEP, this exhibit is the first in an ongoing series of expressions regarding

Some exhibits, such as this jar or cigarette butts, contain clear environmental messages.

sustainability and what it means to students and other members of the campus community.

“Our Quality Enhancement Plan specifically identifies three avenues for student and community engagement – education, empowerment and expression,” LeVasseur says. “Regarding expression, there are numerous ways that students can participate. Submitting art for future Addlestone exhibits is one key way. This exhibit will be an annual show, and each year it will focus on themes for the QEP. We’re calling that CofC Sustains/Solves. For 2017-18, the theme will be issues of water quality and accessibility.”

LeVasseur continued, “some of the pieces in the current show address water issues and sustainability. But students can also opt to blog about sustainability literacy and have their work posted on sustain.cofc.edu. Or, they can choose to participate in alternative breaks where they can express their support for social and environmental justice initiatives. And they can also join clubs or organizations focused on issues pertaining to sustainability. Overall, students can express their knowledge of sustainability literacy in a variety of creative ways that help raise awareness while also helping students to garner knowledge that can be pivotal for future employment.”

“Building Bridges Over Trouble Water” will be on display through the spring semester. Find more information about the College’s Quality Enhancement Plan here. See more of the exhibits below. If you’d like to see more background on the exhibit, you can use the Blippar app. Here’s a video about how to do that.

Photos by Reese Moore