By Rosy Gentle | Jan 10, 2017

Image credit: Jennifer Watts. Original photo by Steve Korn, UW Dance. Image texture from One Frozen Moment.

With the start of winter quarter comes the beginning of a new way to integrate sustainability through the Sustainability in the Arts initiative! This UW initiative aims to bring together students, faculty, staff, and other community members in an effort to explore sustainability at an operational level in different arts departments and venues as well as sustainability themes as content in creating art. Anyone at UW who is interested in joining the discussion can come to the initial meeting on January 24 at 3:30 in Meany Hall.

Art is not always the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about how to address environmental problems, however, it has the power to connect people, influence perceptions, and advocate for change. Many are beginning to see it as a tool to communicate about and generate change for environmental issues. 

As a senior undergraduate in environmental studies and the dance program, I have taken on a role in this initiative as part of my capstone project which aims to synthesize experimental learning and research. I was immediately excited when I heard about this project as it creates a unexpected way for me to combine my two areas of studies. The drive towards sustainability has become a moving target as we increasingly see how much humans are changing the planet and how important these problems are to address for the future. Over the course of the quarter I hope to discover how sustainability can be interwoven in arts departments on campus and how content can be used to increase sustainable behavior.

The hope is that this initiative will create new ways for sustainability to be introduced into arts departments and open up new opportunities for sustainability to be incorporated into artworks. The following is a list of questions I am thinking of at the beginning of this project:

  • What are some of the common threads woven into current sustainable artworks?
  • How effective are sustainable artworks at communicating ideas and influencing behavior?
  • What are the best ways to address sustainability in arts departments?
  • How are arts departments currently addressing sustainability?
  • What kind of collaboration is possible across departments? Other organizations?

Anyone who is interested in getting involved or hearing more should join us at our first organizational meeting to be held on January 24 in the lobby of Meany Hall from 3:30-4:30.