Four artists based in Savannah, Athens, and Kennesaw will soon launch new projects exploring Georgia’s coastal culture and natural resources through art as part of UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant’s Artists, Writers and Scholars program, which launched in 2021.
The program supports Georgia artists to create professional-quality art and literature that increases awareness of Georgia’s marine environments, improves understanding of Georgia’s coastal communities, and helps document history, culture or heritage of Georgia’s coast.
“The Artist, Writers and Scholars program has expanded significantly in terms of reach since its inception two years ago,” says Mark Risse, director of UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. “We’ve hosted two art exhibitions at our aquarium facility in the last year, and many of our collaborators have been featured in art shows across the state. We’re excited to cultivate these new partnerships with the art community and involve audiences in important coastal issues using creative disciplines.”
This year’s cohort includes artists who specialize in painting, illustration, music and dance. Their projects will use various art forms to highlight relationships within animal communities as well as relationships between humans and the natural world.
The 2023 grant recipients include:
Autumn Eckman, an assistant professor of dance at Kennesaw State University. Prior to KSU, she served as an assistant professor at the University of Arizona and as an instructor at Northern Illinois University. Her background includes creating concert dance pieces and dance films inspired by environmental issues, including glacial deterioration and forest fire destruction due to wildfires on protected land. As part of her project, Eckman will bring awareness to the environmental challenges along the Georgia coast through movement film and storytelling. She will create a dance piece that explores environmental awareness as an element of survival through themes related to the effects of human activities on the environment, including climate change, pollution and habitat destruction.
“I hope audiences take away ways in which the arts can illuminate the importance of environmental responsibility and build awareness of the beautiful and sacred treasures that exist within and along the Georgia Coast,” Eckman said.
Peter Van Zandt Lane is an associate professor at UGA, where he teaches composition and electronic music. He also directs the Roger and Phyllis Dancz Center for New Music, a hub for experimental music, recording arts, and electronic music and acoustic research at UGA. For his project, he will compose a piece for a large ensemble that incorporates data sonification and live electronics, drawing on data from Georgia Coastal Ecosystems Long Term Ecological Research site based at the UGA Marine Institute on Sapelo Island. The piece will incorporate composition and data sonification to explore concepts of ecological thresholds and resiliency in the face of environmental disturbances.
“I hope that this project brings together people who love classical music and people who care about the Georgia coastal environment. I believe music is a powerful means to reflect on the issues of our time,” Lane said.
Jennifer Nolan graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in illustration. Animals have always been the subject of her paintings, which have been exhibited in Georgia and abroad. Currently her paintings are represented in galleries in Savannah, including Reynolds Square Fine Art and others. Nolan will be creating five large paintings that highlight moments, situations and emotions that are common to humans but revealed in nature. Her pieces will showcase relationships in the natural world that depict human elements, enabling audiences to better empathize and understand the parallels between human and animal communities.
“My desire is that these paintings will reach past socioeconomic, age, sex and racial differences. I specifically want to remind those who have forgotten or who never had known how precious our coastline is and why it needs to be appreciated. In this process I hope to bring joy, wonder, comfort and beauty to viewers,” Nolan said.
Josh Stutz studied at Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, Michigan, earning his bachelor’s in illustration in 2020 before moving to Savannah in 2021. As someone who loves the outdoors, he developed a strong interest in natural science illustration and the role illustration can play in educational material. Stutz’s project will involve ilustrating endangered and threatened species in coastal Georgia to be featured in a book that describes the threats they face and explains how the health of the coast is connected to the health of the planet.
“I want people to acknowledge the impact we as humans have had on our coast, maybe learn about a new species they haven’t heard of, and feel empowered to do what they can to help keep them around,” Stutz said.