A new artist-in-residence program at the Boreal Ecosystem Research Initiative (BERI) is extending the concept of the "classroom" into other kinds of spaces like science labs, where art is valued as a means of expression and benefit to the community.
Ashley Hemmings, third- year visual arts student from Conception Bay South, began her artist residency in May and will continue until the end of June.
This internship began through a conversation with visual arts instructor Barb Hunt and Dr. Raymond Thomas, researcher with the BERI labs. In February, Professor Hunt brought her drawing class to the BERI labs where Dr. Thomas gave the students a tour. After the tour, the class spent some time sketching in the labs.
"This was a wonderful experiential learning experience for the students and they were inspired by the labs in terms of the space, the equipment and the work being carried out," said Dr. Thomas. "Much of the lab's work is visual so there are inherently strong links between science and art in these labs. This sort of inter-disciplinary collaboration and research is desirable helping to build bridges between the science and arts."
Ms. Hemmings spends time observing scientists at work in the lab using the equipment. She sketches while in the room then heads back to the studio to transfer her ideas into artistic pieces.
Primarily Ms. Hemmings works in textile and printmaking. She recently completed her first piece - a small textile flower pot. She will plant a seed in the pot representative of how the way a person is both nourished and influenced by what they eat.
"One thing we've talked about is how what you eat affects the way you think, the activity in your brain," said Ms. Hemmings. " This piece is about the relationship between what goes in your stomach and how it affects our behaviour."
This Artist in Residency project is intended to give a student invaluable experiential learning experience relating their art practice to a real-world environment and goals.
"The work being carried out by the BERI labs is directly beneficial to Newfoundland and Labrador, so the Ms. Hemmings is gaining insight into broader issues pertinent to this province and will be able to share her perspective on these issues through her own artistic interpretations," said Dr. Thomas.
Ms. Hemmings's work will be used in consultation with the BERI researchers where she will share her perspectives on their work. She will give a talk about her experience and/or exhibit her work following the residency.