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eARTh exhibition blends the line between science and art

April 16, 2021

Ana Gunther ’23 and Sawyer Gouldman ’23 have been collaborating with Bridget Spaeth, the academic department coordinator for the Earth and Oceanographic Science (EOS) Department, to highlight the “art” in “Earth” with their upcoming exhibition, “eARTh,” which will open in the Roux Center for the Environment on May 17.

The exhibition will look at the environment through an artistic lens that diverges from a purely scientific perspective.

“The big idea [with the exhibit] is bringing in an interdisciplinary aspect to thinking about the environment, rather than a more science-focused lens … there are so many benefits to opening this up to [that] artistic lens,” Gunther said in a Zoom interview with the Orient.

Gunther and Gouldman hope the project will raise questions about the Bowdoin community’s impact on a sustainable future.

“It’s one of its main purposes and goals to focus on sustainability and the future of what buildings on campus can look like and how they can act as a center for sustainability. And so that’s the main way it’s interacting with the EOS department,” said Gouldman in a Zoom interview with the Orient.

Gunther explained that the project is meant to be built around student submissions and will be shaped in large part by the submissions sent in.

“The exhibition is really a way to amplify student voices, and we are really excited to see what the Bowdoin community does with the materials we are putting out there,” Gunther said.

“This is really such a great opportunity to get more involved in the community, [engage with] people in different classes … and bring them together,” Gouldman said. “It just so happens to [encompass] two things that I am passionate about and like to do, so … I feel very lucky that I found myself in this position.”

As an EOS major and someone interested in art, Gunther immediately applied when she heard about the project. Gouldman joined after Gunther suggested it to him.

Gunther’s interest in combining art with the environment began early, during her junior year of high school. It was while taking AP Environmental Science and AP Art and Design that her two passions began to both solidify and intersect.

“One component of the AP studio art portfolio that you submit for review is a concentration—12 pieces on the same theme—and the theme that I chose to explore in art was the contrast between man-made materials and the natural world,” Gunther said. “That was where my interest started from … having already thought about these things for a long time. Getting to see how other people think about the same theme is super interesting to me.”

For Gouldman, on the other hand, this project is the first time his two interests have intersected in this way.

“[Art and science]  have not really connected like this in my mind before … Right now, I’m taking three EOS classes and then I am also taking an art class. It kind of balances the way my brain is working and gets me off the computer as well,” Gouldman said.

Gunther emphasized that anyone is welcomed and encouraged to participate, despite the advertising so far being mostly targeted at EOS and visual arts students. The exhibit will be both physically curated and digitally available for remote students, allowing for more diversity in artistic submissions and for students not on campus to view the show.

“There’s opportunity for submissions, physical things like sculptures and paintings and anything like that, but also any form of digital [media, such as] digital art or videos. We are open to receiving anything,” Gunther said. “And [we’re] hoping that we will have the entire exhibition—both the physical component and the virtual component—[available] on some form of website.”

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