To Be an Artist...

A project at Los Poblanos
A project at Los Poblanos
Catherine Harris

.. Is to struggle and, some say, to starve. As the child of an artist, surrounded by the children of CEOs (ah, to grow up in Connecticut!), an integral part of my younger years was learning how to address—kindly and without tears—the seemingly rhetorical question, "Oh, your mother is just an artist?" Often, my response was something semi-kind and semi-tear-free and semi-satisfying, like, "She's a brilliant artist. I realize that the demands of horseback riding must make it difficult to absorb any culture, so you probably wouldn't know anything about her." I'm infinitely proud of my mother and of her remarkable artistry. But just think of how good it would have felt to say, "Actually, my mother is an Art Ecologist. What's yours? Oh... Just a bonds trader?"

Thanks to UNM Professors Catherine Harris and Bill Gilbert, the children of our contemporaries will be able to say just that. The Fall 2009 semester marked the first that Fine Arts students can declare Art and Ecology as their track of study. And not just in New Mexico, but anywhere; the program is the first of its kind. If a picture's worth a thousand words, and our generation's crisis is indeed environmental, then Harris and Gilbert may just be training the future heros of civilization. Artists who keep us all from starving -- what a lovely thought.

Check out UNM’s Art & Ecology page here and Catherine Harris’ site here.