Committee of artists give back with environmental art book

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Students Giano Hurtado, Julia Larberg, Elijah Russell and Laura Cobb(left to right) pick out photos taken by the photo students for the intro of the sustainability photo book, funded by the department of sustainability. The book will be made from 100% recyclable paper and non-VOC ink. Photo by Spencer Carey, The Campus Ledger

Connor Heaton

Reporting Correspondent

cheaton@jccc.edu

By merging their love of art with their desire to raise environmental awareness, a band of artists who call themselves the Community of Visual Professionals (CVP), are creating an art book in celebration of all things sustainability.

The community’s president, Giano Hurtado, characterizes the CVP’s purpose as “a group dedicated to the growth of arts and artists both on-campus and in the greater Kansas City area.”

They hold regular meetings on and off campus where they discuss art history, meet with artists working in the field, hold group critiques, and most importantly find ways for dedicated artists to show off their work.

Hurtado said the group accommodates those interested in the fine arts as well as film and photography. During meetings, they discuss art history and meet with artists in the field. They also hold critiques wherein they discover ways each artist can display and improve his or her work.

However, this semester they are looking to make more of an impact.

One thing the group focuses on is the idea of sustainability — what it means to students and how the college can promote it. Hurtado said an art book is a way to do this. He mentioned the idea that there are more components to sustainability than environmental conservation.

“I found that it makes more sense when you replace [environmental sustainability] with something like cultural sustainability, gentrification would be a good example of a depleting culture that deserves its right to preservation,” Hurtado said. “It is important to note this portion because in part it is the way we have planned on structuring the book but also it opens the door for broader and more complex conversation.”

Hurtado said his vision for the art book would be a way for students to connect more intimately with the themes and concepts behind sustainability.

“Our overall goal is to produce a book that challenges the way we as artists create work that is not just talking about sustainability in the content but also the production of the book itself,” Hurtado said.

They will create the book out of sustainable material such as recycled paper and petroleum-free inks.

“Many of us have a tendency to create work that reflects the nature of the changing world around us but may not always think about the medium we are working with and the resources we use to create,” Hurtado said. “So for us, this is a way of practicing what we preach.”

Currently, the community is in the final stages of the grouping process. More than 300 photos were submitted by a group of 21 artists. Of that lot, less than half made it through the initial judging stage, with more eliminated as the project progressed.

The book will be comprised of photographs submitted to the CVP from the students in the photo department which will then be evaluated and selected by a panel of four judges.

This panel includes professional photographers, museum curators and the college’s own sustainability educator and engagement coordinator, Kristy Howell.

“I was the only non-artist there,” Howell said. “I was the sustainability content expert for that process.”

This was Howell’s first experience as a juror, but her knowledge of the greater scope of sustainability helped fuel the book’s potency.

For Howell, Hurtado and others involved, the book is a way to give back to the world and explore other facets of sustainability.

“I find that too many people think sustainability is just energy and science and the human side of sustainability gets lost,” Howell said. “We need to get better at telling the stories of sustainability but I also think we need to get better at doing some helpful reflection and we can do that through student-generated art. There is still hope here. It’s so easy to forget that.”

Hurtado says they plan to complete the book next semester.

For more information about this project, Giano Hurtado can be reached at gianomhurtado@jccc.edu

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