Uniting the scientist's left brain thinking with the artist's right brain creativity has resulted in a number of environmentally based art installations and projects in Biology 312, a course offered jointly by Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA).
The public will have the opportunity to view these works from this cross disciplinary course in the College of Arts and Sciences' department of biology and the sculpture department at CIA during the week of December 1-5.
This semester, Michael Benard, a new assistant professor of biology, and Charles Tucker, head of the sculpture department at CIA, together taught the course to 15 students. The class was comprised primarily of fourth-year biology majors and sculpture majors.
In addition, the students worked with visiting artist Fritz Haeg, an architect internationally known for his conception of habitats from "Edible Estates," a series of lawns transformed into artistic vegetable gardens, and "Animal Estates," conceptualizations of habitats for animals in the urban environment -- and a project that debuted at the Whitney Museum's Biennial.
Working in teams, the student collaborators produced five major projects:
Students work on "The Deadly Killers."
While this is not the first time Case Western Reserve and CIA have offered Biology 312, Benard and Tucker bring a new perspective.
"We discussed having a more scientific focus," said Benard.
He and Tucker each have a specific interest in the environment and have integrated their expertise into the class.
Benard studies amphibians and how some serve as bellwethers for the decline of natural environments.
Before turning his talents to sculpture, Tucker received his bachelor's degree in biology from Livingston University. He went on to earn a bachelor's of fine arts degree from the University of South Alabama and a master's of fine arts from the University of Alabama.
This is Benard's first semester on campus. He came to the university after his postdoctoral fellowship through the Michigan Society of Fellows at the University of Michigan. The fellows, who met and exchanged ideas and papers, are from interdisciplinary backgrounds and various fields, including anthropology, biology, comparative literatures, English and physics.
When Joseph Koonce, chair of the biology department, approached Benard to discuss fall courses, Benard said this class felt like a natural progression from his interdisciplinary work as a postdoctoral fellow.
Prior Biology 312 courses took place at the University Farms in Hunting Valley and focused more on sculptural works related to that specific environment. The first class called "Environmental Sculpture" was taught by Kim Bissett, a CIA instructor, in 2004. Later Eric Neff from CIA taught the class until 2006. The course was not offered in 2007 but was revived this year with the arrival of Benard and his collaboration with Tucker.
According to farm director Ana Locci, the students used the indoor and outdoor facilities at the Valley Ridge Farm and were taught by faculty from the biology and geological sciences and officials from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Some of the projects from those classes included a woven sculpture in wood, furniture from dying trees and different kinds of bird nests.
Posted by: Heidi Cool, December 1, 2008 10:51 AM | News Topics: Arts & Entertainment, Collaborations/Partnerships, College of Arts and Sciences, Environment, Faculty, Provost Initiatives, Science, Students, features
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