Arts, Environment, & Sustainability Visual Art Exhibit

Curated by Lena Menefee-Cook

Tour this collection of visual art exploring the environment and human relationships with the natural world, all created by talented undergraduate and graduate artists at Iowa State University!

Once you’ve viewed the exhibit, please vote for your favorite here. The piece with the most votes will win the People’s Choice Award!


States of Water
Natalie Deam
woodburn

As the planet warms, the transitions between states of water: frozen ice, transitional crystals, and free-running streams, have become ever more tenuous. This piece reflects on our search for traces of water on other moons and planets as our own state of nature becomes more alien. Water is life, but contaminated water threatens life around the globe. Fungi, which rise from destruction, teach us to have hope when life seems as tenuous as walking on thin ice.

 


An Average Wintery Morning
Alexis Murdock
digital photography

Seeing footprints in snow or otherwise undisturbed nature suddenly struck me with the need to capture the image. It’s a moment to pause and reflect on how we interact with our everyday environments.

 

 

 


 

Our Wake
Alexis Murdock
digital photography

Similar to my winter photograph, my summer photograph asks the viewer to contemplate the wake humans leave on nature.

 

 

 


 

Thank You
Sarah Siroky
multi layer relief print

This piece is a commentary on the irony of “Thank You” bags, considering single-use plastics are one of the biggest contributors to pollution. They are frequently thrown out instead of recycled, and take 500+ years to decompose. Plastic bags also cause a host of problems if they make it out to the oceans, including being mistaken for food by sea turtles. With safer and stronger alternatives like reusable cloth bags, it’s time to make the change from single use to a sustainable future.


Forms
Alexis Murdock
pen and ink

Here is a representation of Earth and Water. This drawing is a merging of two separate abstractions: one of tree bark and one of waves on a lake. It was created using hatching and stippling via ink pens.

 

 


 

Derecho
Natalie Deam
woodburn

On August 10, 2020, a derecho hit Iowa with hurricane level winds, hail, and rain with next to zero warning. It knocked down thousands of trees, destroyed acres of corn, and damaged countless homes, farms, and utilities. Seasonal change has revealed the full grisly face of its devastation, as well as the innovation of human and ecological response. Some disasters are fast, some are slow, none are natural. In the world of the Anthropocene, human choices are behind every storm, their hands on each facet of destruction. In the face of the derecho, the only choice that makes sense is to do everything to take shelter and survive. Let us not forget that urgency after the skies clear, and apply ourselves to prevention, preparation, mitigation, and reparation of the many ecological disasters we face.

 


Wood Triptych
Grace Miller
digital photography

The derecho was something that impacted Iowa very greatly this past summer. My hometown is Cedar Rapids and they experienced extreme damage from the storm. I had the opportunity to capture some of the destruction that happened to the trees from around the area when I visited over winter break. It was a bit chilling seeing the broken trees covered in snow but it brought out a different sense of beauty and stillness in the intricacy of the wood. There is still much work to be done in the restoration from the storm but I think it is important to take time and reflect on what has really been lost through the derecho and where we can all go from here.

 


 

Amphibians of Northeast Iowa
Marianne Aldrich
black pigmented ink on multi-media vellum drafting film

This piece was done using black pigmented ink on multi-media vellum drafting film. It depicts frogs and toads native to Dickinson County in Northeast Iowa. This piece was originally created as a gift for family members who have both a passion for amphibians and a personal connection to the area in which these amphibians are found. The original can be found hanging in their home in Kansas City.

 

 


 

Holgate Glacier
Catherine Berg
two layer reduction print

‘Holgate Glacier’ is a two layer reduction print depicting Holgate Glacier which is part of the Harding Ice Pass located in Alaska’s Kenai Fjords National Park. The process of the reduction print serves as a subtle reminder of the reduction of glaciers and the ever apparent climate crisis. This print is part of a larger body of work focusing on abstracted landscapes, topographical elements, and environmental reminders.

 


Crooked as a Crow Flies
Natalie Deam
woodburn

Every day we receive the gifts of nature, whether bird tracks stalking the muddy creek, the impressive spread of a heron’s wings in flight, or the violent surprises of a successful hunt. I always feel a distinct before and after with such encounters, and am struck by the movements and beauty of a natural world I can never quite anticipate. It’s hard not to try not to blink for fear of missing out, but this interrupts my vision. This piece reflects the challenge of trying to see nature without holding on too tightly to your preconceptions, letting yourself become undone and rewritten by the world around you.

 


Not Yours
Catherine Berg
digital collage

‘Not Yours’ is a study of environmental changes in the arctic. The digital collage includes a contour map of lands once protected that now face the continuous possibility of being drained and destroyed for oil and other natural resources. The collage is overlaid with images of melting sea ice and other impactful aquatic changes. These images have a wide geographic range, from Alaska to Iceland, and come together to promote the same message about the climate crisis and our melting natural world.


Once you’ve viewed the exhibit, please vote for your favorite here. The piece with the most votes will win the People’s Choice Award!