Students in the Stony Brook Department of Art’s visual arts program recently partnered with the Long Island Explorium to present a curated digital art exhibit, “A Visual Dialogue on Environmental Issues.” A collaboration between lecturer Qin Han’s “Digital Arts: Print” (ARS 325) and “Introduction to Digital Art” (ARS 225) courses and the Long Island Explorium, the exhibit focuses on the balance of local community needs fueled with artistic insight on environmental justice. It is supported by the Museum Association of New York (MANY) and “Building Capacity, Creating Sustainability, Growing Accessibility,” an IMLS CARES Act grant project designed to help museums impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic share their collections and reach audiences who cannot physically visit their museums.
This exhibition was curated with the goal to not only display striking and powerful visual messages but also to spark conversation among a wide audience range and to open doors to social, economic, and environmental justice. It demonstrates a view that artists and curators can successfully portray, analyze, and stimulate discourse on environmental challenges that affect our most vulnerable citizens and communities.
Han said the idea was borne out of a brainstorming session with Angeline Judex, executive director at the Long Island Explorium, about an environmental justice-themed, research-based project that would help educate the local museum audience. She shared the idea of the collaboration with her students, asking them to select and develop one topic provided by the museum. After three weeks of research and draft critiques, each student built an image advocating for one of the environmental justice themes.
“Real-life projects such as this are undoubtedly valuable for students and can help me establish new models of teaching that examine art from different perspectives — environmentally, economically, psychologically,” Han said. “Inviting outside sources to discuss how art impacts these areas is essential in exploratory art practices, as well as the potential for tangible social impact.”
The project encouraged innovative multi-disciplinary artistic exploration by individual artists that expressed how the arts and new media can propose solutions to environmental issues and create alternatives that support sustainability and climate justice, fostering cooperation and an exchange of ideas.
Students representing a variety of disciplines across the University were involved in the project, and include:
- Kristin Cimmerer ‘22, Mechanical Engineering; “Single Use”
- Ivan Vuong ‘24, Creative Writing; “Under the Rug”
- Pei Xin Jiang ‘24, Business Management; Untitled
- Kristen Reese ‘22, Studio Art; Postcard
“The Long Island Explorium was selected due to our perseverance in the face of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic and our commitment to STEM and those in our communities on Long Island and New York,” explained Lisa Collet Rodriguez, director, Digital Media/Marketing, Long Island Explorium. “We are pleased to work with Qin Han from Stony Brook University and the student artists that spent time researching, analyzing, and then visually representing some of the environmental issues affecting high-need communities throughout Long Island and beyond. One of the program’s initial goals is to assist and successfully respond to one of the biggest challenges created by the pandemic: how we reach audiences that cannot visit the Long Island Explorium in person. The pandemic has provided the Explorium with an opportunity to re-imagine our program delivery methods and engage our online audiences through meaningful content on a much larger scale, while advocating and encouraging positive action.”
“Being able to work with the Long Island Explorium and promote awareness for environmental issues has been an amazing experience,” Cimmerer said. “I feel incredibly fortunate to be a part of such an impactful exhibition.”
“I feel grateful to have my work chosen to be a part of this exhibition,” Reese said. “I think that it is important for my classmates’ and my work to be shared and spread to the community. While it is an online exhibition, you still receive insight to powerful works of art and spend time reflecting on the environment. It is a pleasure to be working with the Long Island Explorium.”