If you’ve been in the Charles L. Brown Science & Engineering Library lately, you’ve likely noticed a lot of new art on the walls. It’s all part of the current exhibit, “Science and Art of the Eastern Shore,” a collaboration between the Department of Environmental Sciences and Brown Library.
The exhibit is an offshoot of recent Art and Ecology classes at the Anheuser-Busch Coastal Research Center (ABCRC) on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, near Oyster on the southern tip of the Delmarva Peninsula. These classes bring Virginia public school art and science teachers to the ABCRC to spend a weekend painting and drawing local wildlife and scenery under the tutelage of New Jersey-based artist and former teacher Alice McEnerney Cook. Artwork from the classes is then used to produce traveling exhibits, which also incorporate comments from participants, photos of class activities, a summary of the local history, and a description of the major environmental factors shaping the landscape.
The University of Virginia runs the ABCRC through the environmental sciences department, and the Art and Ecology program is administered by Art Schwarzschild, an environmental sciences professor and the director of the ABCRC. The program was established to bring science and art together, focusing primarily on the unique landscapes and species of the Eastern Shore. As Schwarzschild notes:
this program is an outgrowth of a recent movement to link Art, the Humanities and place-based science in an effort to increase public awareness of the natural world, the environmental issues that impact our surroundings, and the complex interactions between human societies and the ecosystems in which we live.
The exhibit is ongoing and materials will be swapped out from time to time. Currently showing is artwork from two recent “Art and Ecology” classes as well as work by Michael Garstang, a member of the Department of Environmental Sciences who has spent time as an “Artist in Residence” at the Eastern Shore facility.
The art can be viewed in the main reading room of the library, as well as in the Ann Lee Saunders Brown Room (148).