PNCA's Art + Science Initiative

The Art + Science Initiative at PNCA is a platform for students to make, think, experience, and research ideas and concepts at the intersection of science, culture and art practice. Through lectures, workshops, exhibition, residences, and grant awards students investigate and consider the relationships between ourselves and the natural world.

In 2013, NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region and the Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) embarked on an unlikely partnership. The federal agency and Portland, Oregon-based arts college joined forces to advance a shared vision: bridging environmental science and conservation with art to create social change. The idea is to reach individuals in a new and innovative way—showcasing through art how our cumulative actions affect the health of marine and freshwater resources, and actions people can take to protect them.

Artists have always assumed a role as cultural commentators, critically engaging, activating, and bridging ideas and communities. Artists create the symbols that become the iconography of environmental movements, shaping the hearts and minds of the public, and they create space for discourse around critical cultural concerns both in gallery settings but also in public spaces and in print and digital media.

As William Stelle, Regional Director for NOAA Fisheries Northwest Region, said when he spoke at PNCA in 2014: “This is exactly the pivot point where art and science evolve and turn into change. When you [artists], with your talents, take your understanding of the things we’re wrestling with – how the landscape works, how streams and rivers and watersheds are interconnected, for example, you can tell it in a way that really gets the point across…That’s where the opportunity for advocacy through art, for teaching or learning through art, occurs.”

A full calendar of events presented by the Art+Science Initiative can be found in on our calendar.

About the Science in Studio Award

The Science in Studio Award represents a collaboration between NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region and PNCA to expand regional and national dialog around the relationship between art and science.

Each year, a select group of students work closely with NOAA staff and scientists to address a specific concern around the aquatic resources and landscape use in our shared environment. Students propose work to inspire change and awareness of the issue, and collaborate closely with PNCA faculty and NOAA staff to realize this work over the course of a few months. TheScience in Studio Award awards $1000 as well as an additional materials costs (up to $500) to successful proposals.

Through their making process and professional engagement with NOAA, students participate in the discourse and investigate the complex dynamics at the heart of many of the environmental and social-economic challenges we face as a community, adding their creative voice to the realm of science and policy. Past projects have addressed Nearshore Habitat of juvenile salmon (2013/14) and Watershed Toxins (2014/15).

The Science in Studio Request for Proposals is announced each Fall. We welcome applications from current undergraduate and graduate students, as well as recently matriculated undergraduates. Please see “Apply” for more details on this process.

The 2015/16 Science in Studio Award addresses “Whales & Humans: A Tale of Two Species” will examine our relationship with marine mammals along the Southern California coastline. This year also, a select student will also engage in a short week-long residency in Longbeach, California at the end of May as part of a required component of this Award.

About the Art + Science Fellowship

Each year graduate students, or upper division undergraduate students, will have an opportunity to apply for the Art+Science Fellowship. The Art+Science Fellow will be embedded in a paid residency, working on-site alongside the NOAA scientific community during the Summer ‘16, and will return for the academic year to coordinate art+science events at PNCA, working closely with faculty and students to develop and create the Art+Science Initiative programming for the academic year 2016-2017. The Art+Science Fellow is required to document and make work in response to their experiences, and give an Artist Talk to the PNCA community and public at large. The Art+Science Fellowship application process will be presented in the Spring ‘16 in conjunction with a panel discussion that will frame the context of the scientific investigation. We are anticipating for this upcoming year, Summer ‘16, the work will be located in the NOAA Newport Research Station, and centered around ocean indicator species. Details of the expectations and application process can be found in the Apply link. The Request for Proposals will be available in the spring.

About the Grant

PNCA’s Art + Science Initiative is funded through a five-year, $40,000 grant from NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region. This collaboration aims to expand regional and national dialog around the relationship between art and science while directly supporting NOAA’s mission to protect and preserve living marine resources and their habitats throughout Washington, Oregon, California, and Idaho. Through this partnership, PNCA students engage in creative research and making and work closely with NOAA Fisheries and EPA representatives to increase public awareness of watershed and community resource issues. The Art + Science Initiative aims to engage student artists and designers in creatively addressing the pressing environmental and sustainability issues of our time and provide an opportunity for artists to have agency in shaping this discourse. 

For more information about PNCA’s Art + Science Initiative, please email Emily Bosanquet, Assistant Professor of Natural Sciences and Liberal Arts at PNCA at ebosanquet@pnca.edu.


Apply for the Science in Studio Award:

DUE DECEMBER 31, 2015

Science in Studio Awardees work closely with NOAA staff and scientists to address a specific concern around the aquatic resources and landscape use in our shared environment. Students propose work to inspire change and awareness of the issue, and collaborate closely with PNCA faculty and NOAA staff to realize this work over the course of a few months. The Science in Studio Award awards $1000 as well as an additional materials costs (up to $500) to successful proposals.

Click here to access the online application

Apply for the Art + Science Fellowship:

DUE SPRING 2016

Each year graduate students, or upper division undergraduate students, will have an opportunity to apply for the Art+Science Fellowship. The Art+Science Fellowship is a paid residency wherein Fellows work on-site alongside NOAA science staff during the summer and work closely with faculty and students during the following academic year to coordinate and develop art+science events at PNCA. The Art+Science Fellow is required to document and make work in response to their experiences, and give an Artist Talk to the PNCA community and public at large.

More details coming soon! The Request for Proposals will be available in the spring.

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