June 8, 2022

In “The Visible Wild,” Environmental Science and Art Intersect

What does it mean to always be watching? Do animals deserve the right of privacy? This spring, students in the visual arts/environmental sciences course “The Visible Wild” asked themselves these questions and more as they explored wildlife habitats adjacent to Princeton’s campus. Led by Director and Professor of Visual Arts Jeff Whetstone, students watched nature both in person and by trail camera, studying animal populations and behavior with the goal of creating artworks from their field research. In this video, the team shares how encountering raw material from the wild inspired new approaches to making art.

“Art is seen by a lot of people as something you make with your hands or something that’s beautiful, that takes a lot of skill and practice. And I think at VIS we try to disabuse people of that notion, that it’s really your approach to material, and in this case the material is camera images and videos that you didn’t really even take.”
— Jeff Whetstone

In the CoLab in May, the class shared their work in an exhibition that included paintings, collages, small installations using materials from the forest, and looping video footage from the trail cameras. Students participating in the exhibition included Maria Fleury ’22, Kate Joyce ’24, Angeline Marsh ’23, Trystin McCann ’23, Maya Mishra ’22, Logan Oyama ’24, Hannah Reynolds ’22, Zach Shevin ’22, Mayu Takeuchi ’23, George Triplett ’22, Claire Wayner ’22, Emily Yu ’22 and Professor Whetstone.

“The amount that we saw animals, snakes, poop, whatever — I will take that forward with me, what you can see when you take the time to observe a little bit more closely and what you can learn from the wild world out there.”
— Maya Mishra ’22

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