Photographic Herbarium highlights connections between art, social sciences and sustainability

Posted on Thursday, November 1, 2012

On November 1, the University of Ottawa's two largest faculties—Social Sciences and Arts—unveils the Photographic Herbarium, a permanent collection of 37 works of art on the second floor of the new Social Sciences Building.

Located in front of the tallest living plant wall in North America, the collection speaks to the important role that living things play within our creative and artistic endeavours, and aims to inspire students to reflect on their natural environment.

“This permanent collection, located on our ‘student experience floor,' features artwork that points to the imaginative connections students can make across disciplines to arrive at creative and diverse approaches to natural observation and socio-environmental commentary. With student associations' offices to the left of it, and a large amphitheatre to the right of it, its works are sure to attract lots of passing gazes,” explained Marcel Mérette, dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences.

The project is a symbolic step in recognizing the importance of sustainability within both faculties, as well as within the University of Ottawa community.

The 37 works were created by students from the Department of Visual Arts for students of the Faculty of Social Sciences. The artists were asked to use the simplest of photographic methods to produce a visual record of the natural world. The resulting negatives and photograms—direct impressions of the living objects they represent—were produced without the aid of cameras or complex apparatus.

“This original collaboration is a testament to the fruitful interdisciplinary exchanges which take place every day on our campus. The junction between art and the social sciences has always been a fertile one, where invention and observation have led to initiatives that better our world and improve our physical, social and visual environments,” said Antoni Lewkowicz, dean of the Faculty of Arts.

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