About b.munkachy

Hey. I'm Becca. I'm a graduating senior at the University of Montevallo as an art major with a concentration in printmaking. I like dinners by candlelight and long strolls in national parks.

My final presentation: Human Nature, the impact of this class on my work

For my final presentation, I wrote a paper which I will present to the class along with a power point that describes how this course has influenced my ideas and concepts about my artwork and contributed to my most recent project, my senior exhibition. Hopefully my presentation will work sort of like an artist’s talk, I’ll read my paper aloud and switch through the slides accordingly. Below I have posted the link to my sliderocket, and additionally I will come back and post my paper on googledocs once I have added my citations and all that jazz.

My slides:

http://portal.sliderocket.com/CRORK/B51CD222-E617-42D5-ADDC-C56CB250168E

My doc:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1AsRh3R93BR_aFmjA30sHpu-7ITcIjLMiMJdgyRhs90Y/edit

My article contribution for tonight: Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in National Parks

Here is the article.

National Parks like Zion are beginning to place electronic charging stations at their parks, powered by solar panels.

I found this article and I thought it was interesting and relieving. After I saw the video we watched a couple weeks ago showing the amount of traffic that pours through national parks on a daily basis, it changed my perception of the parks and concerned me a bit. People flock to these parks to get in touch with nature, the most visited annually being Great Smokey Mountain National Park with 8 to 10 million visitors annually according to the article, and yet visitors drive in lines of traffic for hours with petroleum-fueled cars, simultaneously destroying the thing which they are seeking out. I think implementing charging stations at national parks that are powered by the natural energy of the sun is a great idea. It may be a small step forward and maybe won’t cause an immediate change, but gas-powered engines have a limited lifetime since gas is a nonrenewable resource, so all cars will eventually get energy from an alternative source. Putting these charging stations here in National Parks is a really good way to encourage people. Using clean energy only makes sense when people don’t have the option of walking to and around the entire national park.

Ever since humans discovered technology, we have been tweaking it to our advantage and, unfortunately, many times to nature’s disadvantage. The invention of coal powered electricity was great for us- not so much for the environment. Gasoline is another example. Now we are aware of our surroundings enough to also be aware of the repercussions that man-made technology can have on the environment, and its about time that we start adjusting our behavior and inventions to this new knowledge. Of course this will take time, money, and a solid effort on everyone’s part, but at the end of the day, we really don’t have a choice.

National Parks are ideal for encouraging the masses that flock to these sublime destinations because these are the people that already understand and value the environment. The stations can serve as a visual reminder to beware of what we can do to preserve these places that are precious to us for a variety of reasons. Then, after everyone is used to seeing these stations at these places, we can start spreading them more and more, to not only remind but make it easy for the people that might not value nature like the people that visit national parks to be responsible human beings and take care of their surroundings.

Railroad ties everything together

So as a graduating senior this semester, I’ve been thinking about my upcoming BFA exhibition an awful lot. *cough* November 25th at 5:00 *cough* I was excited to take this class because I knew it would inform my ideas for my show that I’ve been thinking about over the last few months. Visually my show is still under construction but conceptually I have it worked out pretty well. To get to the heart of it without posting my entire artist’s statement on here, basically I want to come up with visualizations that depict how humans relate to the world around them, for better or for worse, and the balance that we have to maintain for the world to exist. So I’ve been studying and investigating different environmental issues, and thinking about what images to use as my symbols to represent these issues, which I will then incorporate into a mandala, which is a type of circular repetitive pattern used by Buddhists and other religions as a tool for centering themselves through meditation. For example, an obvious issue would be global warming due to industry. Smoke would be a good symbol for that, we’ve seen it again and again in paintings. But I’m trying to think beyond that to lesser known issues as well, like how dandelions are misunderstood to be eyesores on lawns when they are actually very healthy to consume and have been used for medicinal purposes for eons. Another example is colony collapse disorder in bees, which actually is a huge issue because if the bees go, we just have the wind to pollinate our food for us and its nowhere near as efficient as our bee pals.

An artist that I am inspired by is Tera Galanti, she uses drawing, painting, and sculpture as well as her interests in biology and animal studies to create her artwork. She is most known for her work “Beautiful Moths (Fly)” which is a sculptural work/project she’s been working on for years. Silk moths have lost the ability to fly due to thousands of years of breeding by Asian silk producers, thus stopping them from completing their life cycles and reproducing. To fix this, she used selective breeding and has created sculptural structures that are beautiful and they function in a way that encourages the moths to fly up the levels. She has even been successful in getting a few moths to actually fly, which I think is pretty awesome. (Thanks Kelly for teaching that this summer!)

So I said all that to say this, the symbolism I found in the railroad fits in snugly with the rest of my plans and imagery in a lot of ways. Rather than being a symbol for an individual piece of the larger scheme like my other symbols, railroads can encompass everything altogether because railroads themselves represent a balance between nature and culture, which is the overarching theme of my work. I got really excited when I figured that out. The reading for last week, The Machine in the Garden, describes Iness’s “The Lackawanna Valley” by saying “there is nothing inorganic. Instead of causing disharmony, the train is a unifying device. The hills in the background and the trees in the middle distance gently envelop the industrial buildings and artifacts. No sharp lines set off the man-made from the natural terrain.” Bingo, I can so use this in my work. Now to figure out how to incorporate it visually…

I <3 Huckabees in relation to "the ideal landscape"

In class we were discussing “the ideal landscape”, or what makes one landscape more aesthetically attractive or impressive than others, and how this affects how important the landscape is to people. Seems that certain characteristics have an impact on how valuable the land is. I think we reached the conclusion in class that people are more apt to save a canyon or string of mountains than they would be to save a marsh or plain. This discussion immediately reminded me of an aspect of one of my favorite movies, I ❤ Huckabees. Since the movie is somewhat difficult to describe with words alone, I’ve provided the trailer here:

I ❤ Huckabees Trailer

So now you’re probably wondering (if you haven’t seen this movie before), this movie seems to be a philosophical comedy about existential crises and the meaning of life- cool. But what does that have to do with landscapes? All of this existential probing, pondering, and investigating actually stemmed from the main character Albert (played by Jason Schwartzman) and his struggle with his job as the leader in a local chapter of an environmental group called the Open Spaces Coalition, a group dedicated to protecting meadows and wetlands while keeping jobs and construction – because nothing is more important than protecting the open spaces we live on. Brad is his antagonist, and he is the head of a corporation called Huckabees, looking to expand on Albert’s beloved open space. I want to bring up how certain characters relate to the discussion we had in class.  Albert represents the attitude and understanding that every aspect of nature plays a vital role, and allowing the seemingly mundane land be destroyed is a violent act. Brad represents the most banal human tendencies, to shallowly put image and money before morality, the environment, and deep thinking. To me, Brad also represents the early attitudes we were discussing, before we really knew about our own impacts on the environment. All people saw was the immediate aesthetic reaction to the land. Why work hard and pour money to preserve something that seems to have no immediate aesthetic value when it could so easily be turned over for “real” monetary value?

I like I ❤ Huckabees because it brings to light a lot of philosophical quandaries and has a good message. I don’t want to give away too much because I highly recommend watching this movie, but each character in the story individually comes to realize the same conclusion at the climax- we are all the same and everything is the same stuff, united under one blanket. Once they realized that, each found their niche in the universe and were able to reach “enlightenment”, in whatever form it came in for them personally. I think its a good way to look at many aspects of life, and particularly the physical world around us. Its all the same. No part is different or more or less valuable than any other. We should preserve what we can when we can, and try to coexist with our surroundings rather than conquer them.

I’ve always wanted a place to quote this and I think it’s relevant, for those who haven’t heard/read astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s response to the question “what is the most astounding fact you’ve learned?” I think it’s relevant.

“The most astounding fact is the knowledge that the atoms that comprise life on Earth, the atoms that make up the human body, are traceable to the crucibles that cooked light elements into heavy elements in their core, under extreme temperatures and pressures.

These stars, the high-mass ones among them, went unstable in their later years. They collapsed and then exploded, scattering their enriched guts across the galaxy.  Guts made of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and all the fundamental ingredients of life itself.

These ingredients become part of gas clouds that condense, collapse, form the next generation of solar systems – stars with orbiting planets. And those planets now have the ingredients for life itself.

So that when I look up at the night sky, and I know that yes, we are a part of this universe, we are in this universe, but perhapse more important than both of those facts, is that the universe is in us.

When I reflect on that fact, I look up – many people feel small because they are small and the universe is big – but I feel big, because my atoms came from those stars. There is a level of connectivity.

That’s really what you want in life.  You want to feel connected, you want to feel relevant, you want to feel like you are a participant in the goings on of activities and events around you.  That’s precisely what we are, just by being alive.” ~ Neil DeGrasse Tyson