College of Fine Arts, School of Art, School of Dance, School of Music, School of Theatre, Film & Television

The University of Arizona College of Fine Arts and the Office of Societal Impact are presenting a research-centered exhibition, “Ways of Knowing, Ways of Being: Arts Research and Integration” at the Center for Creative Photography, Oct. 17-26.

The exhibition will feature seven cross-disciplinary projects, funded by the Arts|Humanities|Resilience Grants, and three art/science integrative workshops. This collection of projects and workshops demonstrate a diversity of arts research methods which approach any subject by asking what alternative ways there are of knowing about it and what alternative ways there are of being situated within it. 

Seven projects and three workshops showcase how arts research can provide alternative ways of knowing any subject and foster alternative ways of being in the world.

“Ways of Knowing, Ways of Being” materialized at the convergence of two initiatives designed to support the integration of arts research into the overall research ecosystem at the university. First, five interdisciplinary projects using arts-based research were selected to receive funding from the TRIF Water, Environmental, and Energy Solutions initiative, administered by the Arizona Institute for Resilience (AIR), and the College of Fine Arts

Second, exhibition organizers Ellen McMahon, associate dean for research in the arts, and Jennifer Fields, executive director of the Office for Societal Impact, received Research, Innovation, Impact (RII) funding to plan and propose a framework for arts integration across campus in the university’s 20 research centers and institutes. 

“Embodied and experiential forms of knowledge created in and through the arts are increasingly recognized as foundational to how we come to know anything about ourselves and our world,” said McMahon. “This is reflected in the new opportunities and increasing support for people using arts research methods within all disciplines.”

“Arts research doesn’t produce knowledge in the same way that science research does, rather it creates spaces and opportunities to make sense of and respond accordingly to the plethora of information we are barraged with every day.”

Exhibition, Oct. 17-26 | Workshops, Oct. 16-18
Public Reception, Oct. 24 (5-7p)
Research in the Arts

Public and applied humanities students loading Polaroid cameras provided by the Center for Creative Photography at El Pueblo Neighborhood Center site visit. Photo by Netza Aguirre.

Arts|Humanities|Resilience Grants

The five Arts|Humanities|Resilience projects include a collaboration between an internationally renowned environmental artist/philosopher and a museum studies scholar on Tumamoc Hill, a documentary film project about how communities across the U.S. are improving their lives by taking their healthcare into their own hands, and the co-creation of a “living” multimedia archive with Tucson’s Southside residents. 

“The TRIF-WEES initiative supports projects that enhance knowledge exchange about water, environment, and energy within and across our Arizona communities, in addition to research,” said Sharon Collinge, Director of AIR. “Fine Arts have a history of deeply embedded interactions with communities and provide both unique and relatable ways for people to connect and interact with environmental issues and solutions.”

“The Grammar of Shells: Experiments from the Wonder Studio”
Stop motion animation by Nicole Antebi and Aaron Bugaj. 

The Wonder Studio (The New Wave of Scientific Illustration)
PI | Nicole Antebi (School of Art)
Co-I | Aaron Bugaj (Biosphere2), Dr. A. Elizabeth (Betsy) Arnold (College of Science)

Documenting Resilience in Tucson’s Southside
PIs | Selina Barajas (Sunnyside Foundation), Jacqueline Barrios (College of Humanities), Elizabeth “Liz” Soltero (Sunnyside Foundation), Meg Jackson Fox (Center for Creative Photography), Kenny Wong (College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture)

Southwest Field Studies in Writing | project website
PIs | Susan Briante (Department of English), Francisco Cantú (Author, Department of English)

The Nature of Change: Experiments in Societal Transformation 
Through Environmental Art in Tucson and the Sonoran Desert
PIs | Carissa DiCindo (School of Art), Jonathon Keats (Desert Laboratory on Tumamoc Hill).

America’s Health: Welcome to the Game | project website
PIs | Yuri Makino (School of Theatre, Film & Television), Christine Ryan Harland (Independent Filmmaker)

  • PIs = Principal Investigators; Co-I = Co-Investigator

Two additional, complementary projects are included in the exhibition: “100-Year Photography: From Today to the Future” (Hai REN, East Asian Studies and Anthropology) and “A Poetic Water Harvesting Project: Dear Body of Water, Love Letters to Overlooked Ecologies” (Gretchen E. Henderson).  

Strange Skies: Travel Documentaries for Plants, by Jonathon Keats, 2010.

Arts/Science Integrative Workshops

The three workshops are designed by visiting artist/consultant Jonathon Keats in response to conversations with leadership in Research Innovation Impact (RII) Centers and Institutes. Each workshop will cover one of three main themes. Results of the workshops will be added to the exhibition. Due to space limitations, each workshop can only accommodate 20 participants.

Origins: Fossils for Possible Futures 
Oct. 16, 2-4p

SubjectsThe cosmos, the planets, life on Earth
FocusCuriosity and the pursuit of knowledge
Inspired by the conversations with … Center for Astrobiology, Arizona Space Institute 
WorkshopParticipants will create fossils speculatively representing organisms from imagined worlds
CCP ExhibitionSpeculative fossils created in the workshop

Futures: Sculpting the Unknown 
Oct. 17, 2-4p

For University of Arizona students only

SubjectsHuman wellbeing and enhancement
FocusTechnological progress
Inspired by Conversations with … BIO5 Institute, Data Science Institute, Institute for Computation & Data-Enabled Insight, Arizona Institute for Resilience, France-Arizona Institute for Global Grand Challenges, UITS
WorkshopParticipants will create sculpture using the art form as a common language for playful intellectual exploration
CCP ExhibitionTranslational sculptures created in the workshop

Heterogeneity: The Values of Nature 
Oct. 18, 2-4:30p

SubjectsBiodiversity and multispecies wellbeing
FocusEnvironmental justice and resilience
Inspired by Conversations with … Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, Biosphere 2, Desert Laboratory at Tumamoc Hill, Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, Arizona Institute for Resilience, Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry
WorkshopParticipants will create collages and small books based on ethical lessons learned from the lifeways of Sonoran Desert plants and animals
CCP ExhibitionHand-crafted books created in the workshop

Student Engagement

An important part of the exhibition is student work. Students from four courses will contribute to projects prompted by the film by environmental arts and integrated sciences writer Gretchen E. Henderson.  

  • EAS 496C/596C        Asian Environmental Humanities
  • ART 696A                  Contemporary Art: Concepts and Issues
  • ARE 425/525             Theory and Practice in Art Museum Education 
  • ART467B                    Visual Narrative and Book Art

Exhibition sponsors include Office of Research Innovation and Impact, College of Fine Arts,
Arizona Institute for Resilience and the Center for Creative Photography.

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About Jennifer Fields
Jennifer Fields is the Executive Director of the Office of Societal Impact under Research, Innovation & Impact (RII). RII supports the world-class research enterprise at the University of Arizona, which is ranked among the top 20 public universities nationwide with more than $824 million in research activity. Prior to her role at RII, Jennifer was Vice President of Education & Visitor Services at the Miami Science Museum (NKA The Frost) from 2003-2007, the Associate Director of Education for UA’s Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium from 2007-2015, and a co-founder of the University of Arizona STEM Learning Center, where she served as its associate director from 2012 to 2015. A specialist in STEM education and inclusion, she has been instrumental in improving the education and career readiness of underserved and underrepresented students. 

About Jonathon Keats | Forbes
Jonathon Keats is an artist, writer, and experimental philosopher whose conceptually driven multimedia projects explore all aspects of society, adapting methods from the sciences and the humanities. He has exhibited and lectured at dozens of institutions worldwide, from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to Stanford University to the Triennale di Milano, and from SXSW to CERN to UNESCO. He is the author of six books on subjects ranging from science and technology to art and design – most recently You Belong to the Universe: Buckminster Fuller and the Future,published by Oxford University Press – and has been an art critic for Forbes for more than a decade. He is a research associate at the University of Arizona’s Desert Laboratory on Tumamoc Hill, a fellow at the Berggruen Institute, the Highland Institute and the Long Now Foundation, a visiting scholar at San José State University’s CADRE Laboratory for New Media, an artist-in-residence at the SETI Institute and Hyundai, and consulting philosopher at Earth Law Center. A monograph about his work at the intersection of philosophy and art, Thought Experiments, was recently published by Hirmer Verlag.

About Ellen McMahon | website
Ellen McMahon is a Professor in the School of Art and inaugural Associate Dean for Research in the College of Fine Arts at the University of Arizona. Fueled by her conviction that art and design are foundational to effecting positive change, most of her projects are interdisciplinary, collaborative, and socially engaged. Her work addressing climate change has been recognized with a Fulbright Fellowship and invitation to serve as a delegate to the World Design Congress (ICOGRADA) in Cuba. McMahon’s visual art has been featured in numerous national and international exhibitions and her artist books are housed in over 40 public collections in several countries. Her publications span essays and op-eds about design and the environment, to scientific illustration, to memoir (MIT Press, Seven Stories Press, Huffington Post, Pacific Standard, Interdisciplinary Journal of Partnership Studies, ECOSHERE)