ASU fuses sustainability with art


May 16, 2008

The topic of sustainability usually involves preserving the Earth and its resources through technology and science. ASU’s Institute for Humanities Research, in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has taken a different route to examine this topic by playing host to two art exhibitions that fuse the humanities and sustainability.

The exhibitions explore the relationship between human beings and nature and propose solutions within existing cultural structures. Download Full Image

“Sustainability and the Visual Arts” was on display last semester. “Between Two Worlds: Art by Melanie Yazzie” is currently on display.

“The Institute for Humanities Research is enlarging the university’s definition of its sustainability initiative by highlighting the contributions of the humanities and the arts,” says Sally Kitch, founding director of the institute and co-curator of the exhibitions. “The ‘Sustainability and the Visual Arts’ exhibition, which was a juried show of student and community work, is part of the institute’s larger commitment to the humanities and sustainability.”

The exhibition, which was on display from October to January, showcased two-dimensional and small-scale sculptures from eight artists. The artists were asked to explore new meanings and interpretations of sustainability. Local artists related their experiences in the Valley, preserving their cultural and linguistic experiences, while others used new materials and methodologies when creating their work.

“The humanities and the arts can provide such contextual knowledge, evoke emotional as well as analytical responses to our current environmental crisis, and situate proposed solutions within larger cultural frameworks,” Kitch says. “The humanities and the arts can also help redesign the future, redefine the relationship between human beings and nature, and reformulate the connection of human societies to the Earth and all of its systems.”

“The exhibit proves that works of art can posit critical viewpoints and perspectives,” says John-Michael Warner, graduate student and the other co-curator of the exhibition. “This exhibition also revitalizes sustainability and the ways we understand it. In order for sustainability to become a successful ideology, humanists, scientists and artists must be invited to the table.”

The exhibitors included Amy Richardson, Mary Lyverse, Adam Frus, Candace Jim, Maria Michails, Lisa Corine von Koch, Keith Stanton and Chloe Palmer.

The current exhibit “Between Two Worlds: Art by Melanie Yazzie,” is a compilation of 15 pieces spanning the artist’s career. As a printmaker, painter and sculptor, Yazzie uses her work to explore how she lives as a Native American in the contemporary world, and how she negotiates that space as a human being and artist. Her art stems from her world travels, childhood memories and personal triumphs.

“I think when I travel, I realize that we’re all coming from different cultures and places but we are all human beings that have common experiences of living on this Earth,” says Yazzie, an associate professor of art at the University of Colorado-Boulder. “The symbols and ideas that are important in one location, would be just as important in other places, but displayed in a different manner.”

According to Warner, melding the humanities and art provides cultural, historic and linguistic inclusion and exchange, while collaborating across disciplines including human rights, gender identity, critical race and feminist theories introduces the opportunity to pose new questions.

Yazzie’s exhibition will be open during business hours through May 14 at the Institute for Humanities Research in the Social Sciences Building, room 107, at ASU’s Tempe campus. The works of art in the “Between Two Worlds: Art by Melanie Yazzie” exhibition were loaned from the Glenn Green Galleries and Sculpture Garden, Bluejacket Family Collection, Hayward Simoneaux and John-Michael Warner.
More information can be found at the Web site asu.edu/clas/ihr.

Four faculty members slated as Regents’ Professors


May 16, 2008

ASU President Michael Crow and the university’s executive vice president and provost, Elizabeth D. Capaldi, have announced four new ASU Regents’ Professors for 2008. The selection was ratified April 25 by the Arizona Board of Regents.

This year’s honorees are: Download Full Image

• Stuart Lindsay, Edward and Nadine Carson Presidential Chair in Physics, and professor of chemistry.

• James Ohlson, W. P. Carey Chair of Accountancy.

• Otto Sankey, professor of physics.

• Elly van Gelderen, professor of English.

The title “Regents’ Professor” is the highest faculty honor awarded at ASU. It is conferred on ASU faculty members who have made pioneering contributions in their areas of expertise, who have achieved a sustained level of distinction, and who enjoy national and international recognition for these accomplishments.

“In making this award to these four outstanding researchers, it reminds us of the remarkable research that is conducted daily throughout this university,” Capaldi says. “The individuals chosen this year are at the top of their professions in the sciences, the humanities and business, indicative of the breadth of accomplishments occurring at ASU. We are proud to recognize the achievements of such distinguished scholars.”

A brief description of the honorees’ accomplishments includes:

• Lindsay, a professor in physics and chemistry, leads the Center for Single Molecule Biophysics in the Biodesign Institute. He is an international leader in the area of experimental physics and chemistry. He has made key contributions to the understanding of electron transfer in single molecules and to the science of nanotechnology.

• Ohlson, the W. P. Carey Chair of Accountancy, is internationally recognized for his analytical and empirical work on valuation, earnings changes and earnings capitalization. His research is central to the progress of modern accounting research and practice, and it has fundamentally changed how academics, analysts and auditors use accounting data in security valuation.

• Sankey is a professor of physics, and his research contributions relate to the development of theoretical physics approaches that calculate the electronic states of complex materials and molecular systems. His techniques have been highly influential in theoretical materials physics research around the world. They are applied by researchers to provide insight into the relation of atomic structure, electronic states and materials properties.

• Van Gelderen, a professor of English, is a leading scholar in the history of English syntax. She is internationally recognized as a leader in the branch of theoretical linguistics that seeks to explain language change. Her original work in linguistics has been groundbreaking, combining imagination and careful data analysis.

Britt Lewis

Communications Specialist, ASU Library