By Bailey Barrow
University of Alabama at Birmingham students Sarah Adkins and Sarah Faulkner were collectively awarded $1,000 in grant funding from the Alliance of the Arts in Research Universities, known as A2RU, for their creative community project proposals through UAB’s Arts& Initiative, led by art students Bailey Barrow and Cima Khademi.
Barrow and Khademi hosted three interdisciplinary salons during the fall 2016 semester as part of the Arts& Initiative to emphasize the importance of the arts in collaboration, social practice and community service, and in January, put out a request for proposals for arts-based projects that would have an impact in the community.
College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Art and Art History student Sarah Faulkner and the UAB Art History Club are working with Associate Professor of Art History Cathleen Cummings, Ph.D. Their proposal aims to organize the “Global Eye Exhibition,” a photographic exhibition and discussion intended to help international students feel integrated and secure in the UAB community while helping other UAB students to become more aware of other student groups on campus.
Students were encouraged to take photographs and film clips around the city and campus that reflect their thoughts or concerns about local and global issues that may be a source of apprehension.
Faulkner says the dialogue that has been created around the project has shown an interest among international students for the rest of the student body to get to know their international student peers.
The winning entries will be displayed in the Global Eye Exhibition, which opens Friday, April 21, in the new UAB INTO space located in the Sterne Library, 917 13th St. South.
Adkins, a Ph.D. student in biology and UAB alumna in studio art and integrative biology, is working with UAB biology student Rachel Rock and assistant professor Jeffrey Morris, Ph.D., to create “petri dish art kits” for biology students at Parker High School to encourage scientific exploration through creativity. Adkins and Rock will work with the students to collect bacterial samples, “paint” with isolated bacteria and create an individualized testable experiment based on their artwork.
“Especially in our nation’s political climate, it is imperative that our community interacts with and has an understanding of true science,” Adkins said. “As we train up the next generation of scientists, we need to impress upon students that they can be empowered by scientific fact and choice to critically evaluate the world around them. Students in our communities need better access to engaging educational opportunities that challenge them to think, especially those students in lower-funded schools.
“Scientific exploration is synonymous with creativity,” she said. “Having students understand this fact is fundamental to their science education; like art, science is dynamic and exploratory. Students who make use of our kit will not only be creating original pieces of artwork with living organisms, to which they will have artistic autonomy with their designs, but they will also be using their art to discover novel relationships between the bacteria they have used and will inquire about those relationships. We want to show the community these works to broaden public understanding of ecology and evolution as well as to engage in broader dialogues about the importance of exploration through science.”
Adkins and Rock are tentatively scheduled to work with Parker High School biology students on April 21, 24, 26 and 28 and May 1 at 8:30 a.m. The artwork can be seen at @petridishartUAB and #petridishart on Instagram.