Pitzer Launches Arts and Environment Programs with $600,000 Mellon Grant

In Beach Sorbets, Professor of Art Kathryn Miller creates an image out of eroded beach glass and stones. Miller's work often captures how human actions affect the natural environment.

Claremont, Calif. (June 5, 2012) — The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded Pitzer College a $600,000 grant to support interdisciplinary programs that will explore the intersection of the arts and the environment. These programs will transform the way art is taught, studied and experienced both on the Pitzer campus and throughout The Claremont Colleges.

"We are thrilled with the support by the Mellon Foundation for this exciting project that aims to infuse the arts across the curriculum and raise the level of excitement about, and involvement in, the arts throughout the campus community," said Pitzer College President Laura Skandera Trombley.

The "Art and the Environment" project is designed to shape the College's culture and curriculum while strengthening long-term collaborations with the other Claremont colleges. Over the next four years, the Mellon-funded project will:

  • develop interdisciplinary and team-taught courses with faculty from The Claremont Colleges and the Claremont Graduate University that broadly focus on art and the environment
  • engage faculty and students in research and creative projects developed with organizations such as the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles
  • create an artist-in-residence program, with the Native American conceptual artist Edgar Heap of Birds, who will be working on an exhibition with Pomona College next year, as Pitzer's first artist-in-residence
  • mount joint environmental art exhibitions with Pomona College and Scripps College
  • convene a capstone symposium on "Environmental Art Today" during the fourth year of the project

The project evolved from Pitzer's twin beliefs in the importance of environmental stewardship and the role of art as not only a means for personal expression, but as an impetus for interdisciplinary inquiry and critical thinking that "can model possible solutions for a better world."

The link between the arts and ecological awareness at Pitzer dates back to the 1960s when Carl Hertel became the College's first professor of art and environmental design. Today, Hertel's former student, Professor of Environmental Analysis Paul Faulstich '79, is developing a new track in the environmental analysis program which will incorporate art, architecture and media studies. Other faculty and staff who will be involved in the new project include: Assistant Professor of Art Timothy Berg, Director of Pitzer Art Galleries Ciara Ennis, Assistant Professor of Art Jessica McCoy and Professor of Art Kathryn Miller.

The project's director is Associate Professor of Art History Bill Anthes. Anthes said that contemporary art often explores social and political relations, and the interaction between humans and the nonhuman environment. Citing the project's proposal, Anthes said that these kinds of concerns "are a perfect match for Pitzer's unique ethos."

"I hope that in five to ten years we will have an appreciation for the ways in which the arts are central to Pitzer's ethos of environmental and social responsibility and action—that the arts function, as they have historically, as a means of imagining and remaking our shared world," Anthes said.

Related Links:

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Pitzer College Art Field Group

Pitzer College Environmental Analysis Field Group

About Pitzer College

Pitzer College is a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility and community involvement. For more information, please visit www.pitzer.edu.

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