Photo Credit: James J. Greco
Natural and Urban Worlds, Redefining the Environmental Relationship through Art
Wendy Wischer is an Art and Art History professor who has received four intramural funding awards from the University Research Committee (URC). Professor Wischer pursues multi-media projects which bring to light the current and impending environmental crisis. Her visual and auditory artwork seeks to redefine and personalize the shifting relationship between natural and urban worlds through an artistic and poetic medium.
The Office of the Vice President for Research asked Professor Wischer to elaborate on her artistic vision, her residency at the University of Utah, and her research.
What is the vision of your work as a researcher and an artist?
"With an interdisciplinary focus on artwork in a variety of media from sculptural objects, to installations, to video, sound and public works. Much of the artwork is based on blurring the separation between the intrinsic history of working with nature and the cutting edge of New Media. The conceptual focus highlights environmental issues, finding ways to translate data into personal understanding and create artwork that moves the viewer in poetic ways. Through the research, a wide range of data is sought that can be used to creatively link nature with technology, science with mythology and personal identity with universal connections all while addressing our current environmental crisis in hopes of finding impactful ways to connect people more deeply with each other and with the environments they live in."
How did you become interested in analyzing and showcasing environmental themes in your research?
"While I have always been inspired by the natural world and created works that were intended to unveil intrinsic connections sometimes forgotten, our current environmental crisis pushed me to focus more directly and intently on attempting to communicate these connections and how the natural world is changing in ways that will be devastating for a wide variety of ecosystems. As my research has expanded through collaboration with scientists and engineers, so has my understanding of how important and complicated the issues really are. This new knowledge confirms the significance of the direction I am pursuing along with a sense of urgency."
How has your research scope changed or expanded during your residency at the University of Utah?
"I knew it was only a matter of time before the influence of the incredible landscape of Utah would shape my work in new ways. Simultaneously, the truly remarkable research conducted throughout all the disciplines at the University has also proved hugely inspiring and influential.
In 2016, I shifted focus to include a restorative art practice, where the artwork contributes to environmental restoration in tangible ways. These restorative artworks often involve working with scientific and community collaborators to create impactful projects that will reach far beyond the scope of the art world and out into the community at large. Some of these projects have direct and lasting impacts on the natural environment. I am specifically working with researchers and collaborators who are interested in bridging the gaps between disciplines in search of greater understanding and impact. The Global Change and Sustainability Center (GCSC) has made an immeasurable impact with this research focus. Being a faculty affiliate has connected me with a multitude of researchers in different disciplines with similar goals and new ways of perceiving. Through these opportunities, I am able to learn from researchers across disciplines while also sharing and demonstrating the value of creative research in the quest to find solutions to the challenges we face."
How has University of Utah research funding helped fuel your vision as a researcher and as an artist?
"The research funding has allowed me to grow as an artist in ways that I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. It has provided an expansion in use of materials and fostered the creation of artwork at a larger scale with greater impact. It has also helped increase my skills with new techniques and processes and provided an extension of these impacts into multiple forms of dissemination both through exhibition and academic papers and presentations. This provided opportunities to make large leaps in the research I have been pursuing while also opening doorways to further fulfill my goals."
What do you hope to accomplish in the future with your research?
"As I move forward I will continue to pursue creative research that focuses on climate
change. The work will incorporate new and continued collaborations and community partnerships.
The artwork will incorporate sculptural elements, installations, photography, video
and sound components with new technologies and new processes. My goals include a continued
expansion of knowledge and increased dialogue and dissemination all while using the
unique platform of visual art as a powerful tool in assisting the efforts to seek
solutions towards the collective challenge of the environmental crisis."
You can see more of Professor Wischer’s work at the premiere of her multi-media exhibition entitled “Displacing Vibrations” on February 15th, 6pm-9pm, at Nox Contemporary (440 South 400 West, Suite H). For more information about this event, and to view more of her work, please visit www.wendywischer.com.