In response to student demand, Grace College recently introduced a novel major that combines ecological studies with the visual arts known as “Eco-Art.” The growing field seeks to preserve, remediate, and vitalize nature through art. Grace will become one of few Christian schools in the country that offer a combined art and ecology program.
“This exciting program is a multifaceted study of our natural environment and art in the context of society. It allows students to address contemporary environmental issues through the creation of visual art,” said Kim M. Reiff, chair of the School of Visual, Performing and Media Arts at Grace College. “Eco-Art can be a catalyst for change by inviting open dialogue about complex ecosystems and raising awareness for the importance of the relationship between our ecosystems and our global community,” she said.
The ecological art major will require students to take courses from four academic departments: visual, performing, and media arts; science and mathematics; humanities; and behavioral sciences. Through a wide variety of courses, students will have the opportunity to study visual art theory, environmental studies and ethics, and governmental and social constructs. This will give students a framework to explore environmental issues on a local, regional and global scale.
The major will also collaborate with the Lilly Center for Lakes and Streams. The center will serve as an option for students to fulfill their field research requirement.
“The natural environment inspires artistic expression, and art inspires environmental stewardship. The ecological art major brings these pursuits together in a unique and powerful way,” said Dr. Nate Bosch, director of the Lilly Center for Lakes and Streams and professor of environmental science at Grace College. “God’s amazing creation draws us to love Him and love others better,” he said.
According to Reiff, students will not be limited to local research. The specific environmental interests of the students could lead students to other states or even abroad.
“With the heightened awareness concerning our global environment, there is an emergence in cross-discipline approaches to better co-existing within our natural environment. Eco-Art is about inviting students to participate proactively in environmental stewardship, protection, justice, and sustainability. The eco-themed artwork derived from these experiences creatively invites the viewer to reflect on the fragility of our natural ecosystems,” said Reiff.
Those who major in Eco-Art at Grace College can choose from three visual art concentrations: visual communication design, studio arts and photography.
To learn more about the environmental art program, visit www.grace.edu/programs/eco-art-major/.