Saturday, January 30, 2010

Boise State University Arts and Humanities Research Fellowship

Larry McNeil's Fellowship Title: Global Climate Change: Caught in the Act

I was recently selected to be one of three Boise State University Arts and Humanities Research Fellows. This is a great honor for me because there were so many submissions from other excellent scholars. I really love this Fellowship because it is from my own university and it places a high value on the research that is being done in the humanities. I offer my sincere gratitude; it will translate to having the opportunity to completely immerse myself in the creation of new research and art. For a scholar and artist like me, this is pretty dramatic news, because it allows me to change gears into being a full-time artist, which for lack of a better phrase, can be simply phenomenal. I never stop being completely amazed at what happens with the creative process; it is where enlightening things can happen and one may influence people in unexpected ways with the content and artistry of their work.

This Arts and Humanities Research Fellowship allows one to take a year leave of absence from teaching with their full salary and benefits, and is from May of 2010 to May 2011. If you count the summer of 2011, it is a full 15 months dedicated to new research. Fabulous!

The other Fellows were Barton Barbour and Cheryl Hindrichs, both of whom have book manuscripts as a part of their Fellowship plan.

The mission of Boise State University’s Arts and Humanities Research Fellows Program is to enable research and creative activity that will inform and enrich our understanding of the humanities: the art, ideas, history, and diverse cultures of the world. The Program contributes to building an intellectual and cultural community at Boise State University, but also in Boise and beyond; encourages scholarship in the humanities; stimulates creative expression in the arts; and nurtures connections among the humanities and between the humanities and other fields of research and teaching at Boise State University.

It's going to be a residency type fellowship with space provided at the new Ron and Linda Yanke Family Research Park on Parkcenter Boulevard. It is a new research center with a unifying theme of community engagement. The research center could not have been more perfect for my own Fellowship application. It is titled, Global Climate Change: Caught in the Act.

Part of the guidelines for the fellowship application had to do with writing a three-page description of our proposed activity; here are the first three paragraphs from my project narrative:

"My proposal is to make art using various media with the intent of enlightening people as to what is going on this moment with global climate change, both with the Earth and what humans have done to affect it. I like the definition of the humanities as being the ideas, stories, words and art that help us makes sense of our lives and the world.

Humanity is in a state of crisis that it has rarely experienced before and the merit of this proposal has to do with offering additional layers of dialogue and knowledge about the issues, using the field of humanities as the vehicle for research about the subject.

Scientists have proven beyond all doubt that the world is in a cycle of global climate change. It is now common knowledge that the massive, worldwide carbon dioxide (CO2) gases emitted over nearly the past one hundred years are the primary cause of global climate change and are a byproduct of the combustion of fossil fuels from humans to run their industries, power plants, homes and automobiles. Recent polls have shown that almost 15% more people disbelieve that global climate change is a reality than two years ago. It seems we are going backwards with the issue instead of forward. This points to the imperative need for people in the humanities to enter the fray, make a stance, and get proactive about making new work that addresses the issue. We need to make better sense of the world now, more than ever."

The narrative goes on to briefly describe my strategies for making a number of visual manifestations of things like Coal Fired Power Plants, Boise Bicycle Commuters, and the current impact that global climate change has on the lifestyles of people living in the Arctic region of Alaska. Travel is a critical part of the plan, because I need to make actual photographs of the above, using my own visual aesthetic and ideas about recent developments with global climate change.

McNeil bicycle commute on the Tee Harbor
Jackson Bikeway (from 2008).

Part of the Fellowship has to do with interdisciplinary and collaborative initiatives, which is also a natural for this project. I am currently making contacts regarding how to interact with other people and organizations who may be interested in participating in some manner. I am open to the potential for various partnerships, especially since this is a global issue that needs as much input as possible in order to beat the challenge of global climate change. If there is such a thing as an international problem needing global solutions, this is it.

Official portrait for the Arts and Humanities Fellowship. I'm wearing the vest I got from my father for when I reached the rank of Full Professor a couple years ago, and the Eagles were made by my sister Patty. I'm holding one of my retro film cameras that I'll be using with the fellowship. Photo by Allison Corona at the BSU Photographic Services area; nice one Allison!

I'll be experimenting with video media, and am looking forward to this aspect, because so much of my art already has a very sophisticated kind of narrative, and video is a natural extension of what I have to say with my art. I'll also be using digital photography as my predominant media, including making etching relief prints using the Solarplate media with a printmaking press.

One of the characteristics of my art is that it has always had an essential component that made it critically relevant to the people; I go out of my way to make work that speaks to a broad audience, because the art is about them. This new work continues that practice, because like mentioned above, I sincerely believe that we do in fact need to make sense of a world that makes little sense, more now than ever.

Boise State University Arts and Humanities Research Fellows Program

Cheryl Hindrichs, Arts and Humanities Research Fellow

Barton Barbour, Arts and Humanities Research Fellow

McNeil Blog entry on Bicycle Commuting

Copyright Larry McNeil, All Rights Reserved, 2010

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