An interdisciplinary community event, What’s in Your Watershed?, posed questions about the impact of environmental destruction and the critical role art can play in exploring this impact at the individual and community levels.
November 16, 2022
Jake Puff ’23 and some of his fellow Chargers recently picked up trash along New Haven’s waterfront. He and one of his classmates collected about 1.5 bags of garbage. This is waste that can have a second life after being picked up as garbage.
A coastal clean-up event brought Chargers and members of the local community together on the Long Wharf waterfront to not only clean up the trash, but also improve their understanding of environmental science and art. Entitled ‘What’s in Your Watershed?’, the event combined environmental education and advocacy through the lens of art.
“This was a great way to promote arts and science education because the event highlighted some of the major issues surrounding garbage and the environment,” said Puff, a graphic design major. “The connection with art has also been an important and interesting way of showing the impact and amount of trash in our environment.”
“The Value of Interdisciplinary Collaboration”
Hosted by the university’s Citizen Opportunities for Accessing Science Training on the Sound (COASTS) program, New Haven Climate Movement, and Save the Sound, the event was attended by over 50 university community members, local high school students, and community members. Did. to the waterfront.
Several university professors, including Dr. Amy Carlyle, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, helped collect the trash. We also educated participants on the causes of watershed pollution and discussed topics such as microplastics and the harmful effects of cigarette butt disposal.
Dr. Carlile said: “When people from different backgrounds come together with a common goal, a lot can be achieved. Using art to get people involved in environmental issues is very effective. It’s important to get involved and inspire the next generation of scientists.It was great to see so many young people taking an interest in protecting our blue backyard, Long Island Sound. .”
“Be a catalyst”
sTo Len, a printmaker, installation, sound and performance artist based in Queens, NY, helped transform the event into a celebration of the arts. He uses works that combine art and ecology to raise his awareness of the effects of pollution. The cleanup allowed him to proceed with that work, as he used trash collected in New Haven for his solo exhibition, To Dissolve in the Hydrocommons, One Drop at a Time. It is on display at the University’s Seton Gallery until December 9th.
Funded by grants from the New Haven International Society and the Connecticut Sea Grant Art Award Support Program, Wren’s exhibition examines themes of environmental degradation and global ecological interconnection. He hopes to encourage viewers to explore their own environmental impact and help them discover new places nearby that people might not know about.
“Whenever a group of people get together, it can be very inspiring and empowering,” Ren said. I know that I was looking at it from the perspective of
“Some people I spoke to said they had never been to Longwharf,” continued Wren. “But they said they were going to start going there.
“Visual and poetic”
For Ren, environmental education is personal. As part of the event, he told attendees about the devastating impact industrial waste had on Vietnam, a country with his family roots, and what he saw first-hand during his visit. The prints documented spilled oil in the water, shedding light on an environmental crisis that had not been widely covered by the media.
It’s stories like this that explain the importance and influence of an artist’s work, says MFA’s Jacquelyn Gleisner. His Professor Gleisner, one of the organizers of the event, hopes Len will encourage attendees and encourage viewers of his exhibition to think critically.
“sTo Len’s way of communicating is both visual and poetic,” says Professor Gleisner, resident practitioner and director of the Seton Gallery. “Art and science can work together to enhance and enhance each other’s perspectives. And today’s artists employ many amazing and innovative techniques to create meaningful works of art.” In this case, sTo Len used debris and garbage collected from Long Wharf to create an index of black-and-white prints that appear alongside the collected objects.”
The cleanup was the first large-scale community outreach event hosted by COASTS, which is supported by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Long Island Sound Futures Fund. Over the summer, COASTS began training a group of local community members to become citizen scientists. They plan to support future outreach events. Three more are planned as part of the “COASTS through the Seasons” series. Our next event in February will feature citizen scientist projects and focus on sustainability.
For Puff, a graphic design major, this latest outreach event was as enlightening as it was interdisciplinary. It connects the university and the community, bridging science and art in one thought-provoking event and exhibition.
“Participating in this event gave me a closer look at the work and process of artist sTo Len,” he said. “It was cool to see some of the trash picked up alongside the artwork in an exhibition at Seton’s gallery.”