Harvard Forest LTER


Program name: LTEaRts

Brief description of program/project development and components or hopes:

The Harvard Forest has a deep history of incorporating environmental literature, history, photography, and fine art with scientific research to characterize past landscapes, depict future scenarios, and educate a range of audiences. In addition to the exquisite dioramas<http://harvardforest.fas.harvard.edu/fisher-museum> of the Fisher Museum, our arts and humanities work is two-fold. The first is an increased focus on interdisciplinarity in our course offerings. The second is a burgeoning effort to bring artists to the Forest to conduct inquiry on long-term ecological research sites alongside scientists.

2009-2012 Projects:

Fall 2012 Exhibit: First Contact<http://harvardforest.fas.harvard.edu/exhibit-first-contact>, an immersive digital multimedia art exhibit by Roberto Mighty<http://robertomighty.com/> exploring the roles of Christianity, Native worldviews, and land use in 17th-century Massachusetts.

Online Feature: Ghosts in the Forest<http://harvardforest.fas.harvard.edu/ghosts-forest-art-abandoned-landscapes>, featuring work by 2010-2011 artist-in-residence Debby Kaspari<http://debbykaspariart.com/>

Spring 2012 Exhibit: LTER Reflections artwork, including work from several Harvard Forest artists, was on exhibit<http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=123081> from March through June, 2012, at the National Science Foundation’s headquarters in the DC area and is now traveling at science events throughout the country.

Forthcoming photography book: Ecological Science at Work. Photographs by visiting artist John Hirsch<http://www.johnhirsch.com/John_Hirsch_Photographs/Home.html>. Text written in collaboration with site director/PI David Foster. An exploration of the Harvard Forest, the scientists who work here, and the various field and laboratory studies being conducted. Hirsch has photographed at the Forest for over a year in more than ten visits.

Short-term artist residencies (2010): Artists lived on- or near-site, met with scientists, conducted investigations in the field and historical archive, produced and exhibited original work in the Fisher Museum, and presented a seminar for scientists, students (REU and Harvard undergrads), and the general public.

*   Regan Golden-McNerny<http://drawnlots.com/regan.html> (July 2010)
*   David Bryant<http://www.davidcbryant.com/> (September 2010)

Long-term artist residencies/affiliations (2009-2012):

Harvard University’s Charles Bullard Fellowship <http://harvardforest.fas.harvard.edu/mid-career-fellowships>, a 6-to-12-month research fellowship at the Harvard Forest traditionally granted to ecologists, foresters, and conservation professionals, supported visual artist Debby Kaspari<http://debbykaspariart.com/> in 2010-2011. She lived and worked on-site, exploring themes of land use history and ecological legacies, attending weekly HF research seminars, and hosting “open salon” brown bag lunches in her studio. The resulting work was exhibited at the local craft center, has been part of the traveling Ecological Reflections art exhibit in 2011-2012, and is now being crafted into a book.
Products by digital multimedia artist Roberto Mighty<http://www.robertomighty.com> (2011-2012) have included both an art installation on the relationship between historical Native Americans and local forests (see First Contact, above), and several web-based ecological outreach videos<http://harvardforest.fas.harvard.edu/news/video-series-features-global-change-research>.

Relationship with core science, education, cultural programs at the site:

Research and education are central to the Harvard Forest mission. We have strongly increased our focus on interdisciplinarity in our educational programming<http://harvardforest.fas.harvard.edu/undergraduate-students>. Presentations and workshops by artists, historians, botanical illustrators, and writers deepen students’ perspectives on landscape and the pressing challenges of global change.

System for sharing and archiving outcomes:

Artist residencies: Artists donate at least one piece to the Harvard Forest collection, either digitally or as originals. They also exhibit their work on-site and present a public Art Talk.

Book projects and exhibits: The Harvard Forest Outreach Manager works with the Ecological Reflections Network to seek out ongoing exhibit and book publication opportunities.

Funding:  National Science Foundation and the Long-Term Ecological Research Program (2009-2012), Harvard University


Our arts activities are thus far arranged on an ad-hoc proposal basis, rather than a juried call for proposals. This is due to a lack of funding for staff time to devote to the arts initiative.

We also lack suitable studio and exhibit spaces for visual artists. Artists who do work here have to be extremely self-motivated and adaptable.

Future goals:

In the long-term, we’d like to integrate the arts more strongly into our education, research (Future Scenarios), and policy/outreach efforts. As others have mentioned, this would take more sustained funding, as well as communication and support from a network of sites doing related work.

Contact person(s):  Clarisse Hart (hart3@fas.harvard.edu), David Foster
Link: http://harvardforest.fas.harvard.edu/other-tags/arts

Webpage: http://harvardforest.fas.harvard.edu/research/lteArts.html