UVM Eco-Arts & Humanities Update

Here’s a brief report on some developments in the Environmental Arts and Humanities at the University of Vermont connected to BASTA!, the Lattie Coor Environmental Humanities Fellows, and the Steven Rubenstein Professorship (2016-19).

1) BASTA! (Bridging the Arts, Sciences, and Theory for the Anthropocene): This Burlington-based group of UVM-and-beyond faculty, students, and community members (which includes participants from UVM, Champlain College, St. Michael’s College, and Community College of Vermont) has been meeting since the fall of 2015. In September, we successfully organized the 6X Howl, a public art and food extravaganza accompanying UVM First Year Read author Elizabeth Kolbert’s visit to speak on “The Sixth Extinction.” We’ve also discussed a range of other ideas for collaborative engagement between artists, scholars, and the public, including the building of a public/participatory virtual and sculptural “climatological-phenological calendar” that would link Burlington and Lake Champlain with sister cities and lakes around the world; and other scholarly, artistic, and community events and projects. Email me (aivakhiv@uvm.edu) if you are interested in attending the next meeting.

2) Lattie Coor Environmental Humanities Fellows: This group of UVM faculty (from Classics, History, Studio Art, Art History, and Environmental Studies) met several times through the year, created a database of UVM environmental artists and humanists, and organized an “Environmental Humanities Slam” last October, which featured 13 participants/slammers and a total of about 25 in attendance. The Slam concept (5 minutes or less per participant) allows faculty and grad students to present their research in novel ways; we plan to make the Slam an annual event.

3) Humanities, Arts & Environment Wine & Cheese Social: Held on February 15 in the Frank Livak Room of the Davis Center, this event brought together some 30 UVM faculty to discuss ideas that could or should be pursued for UVM to become a leader in environmental arts and humanities. Among the top ideas that emerged from our brainstorming and “dotmocracy” (voting with dots) session were these (points obtained in parentheses):

  1. Science/art “speed dating workshop(s)” (6)
  2. More interdisciplinary graduate level electives (5)
  3. Using humanities & arts as affective catalysts, in collaboration with science (5)
  4. Curated cross-disciplinary conversations/panels (e.g. artist, art historian, hard scientist, soft scientist) on topics such as “Climate Change and ____” (4)
  5. Art exhibitions/symposia (in partnership with other local organizations) (4)
  6. Art/technology & ecological thought events, courses, etc. (4)
  7. Film festival and media production workshop(s) (3)
  8. Activist performance (3)

Register your interest in any of these by emailing me (see below).

4) Natalie Jeremijenko visit: The Rubenstein Professorship and the Lattie Coor Environmental Humanities Fellows brought celebrated environmental artist, engineer and inventor Natalie Jeremijenko to give a talk at UVM on April 19, 2017, in conjunction with her current exhibition and residency at the Helen Day Art Center in Stowe. Natalie is in (and out of) Burlington and northern Vermont through the summer working on a variety of projects including her xAIRSTREAM, parked outside The Generator in Burlington’s South End. More details forthcoming on this blog.

Plans for the coming 2017-18 year include bringing Bruno Latour as Burack Lecturer (funds are in place, but the timing has been elusive), organizing another Environmental Humanities Slam, developing a xPhenological Clock for Burlington, collaborating with an international editorial group to get started on a new journal in media and environment (supported by a 2017-18 Rachel Carson Center fellowship), and inviting other artists and/or scholars to present and/or collaborate with us here at UVM. For the time being, this blog will be the place to look for announcements. Or write me, Adrian Ivakhiv, at aivakhiv@uvm.edu.