Callas, Phifer-Rixey Join UCI as Faculty Fellows
Photo and Article by Karl Vilacoba
The Urban Coast Institute welcomes Monmouth University Assistant Professor Kimberly Callas as its artist in residence under a two-year faculty fellowship program. Through this new program, faculty members developed proposals to partner with the University’s Centers of Distinction to conduct research that aligned with their missions. Successful candidates receive financial support for their projects and can take on reduced course loads through the duration their two-year terms.
Callas joined the Department of Art and Design in 2016 and teaches courses in drawing, sculpture, and 3D design, incorporating social practice and emerging digital processes, including 3D printing, CNC milling and laser cutting. Her work has an ecological focus incorporating interdisciplinary issues including psychology, ecology and poetry.
As an artist living in Jersey City on 9/11, Callas and her husband witnessed the Twin Towers fall from across the river and were moved to find ways to live that were not dependent on foreign oil. They soon relocated to Maine and built and in-ground, stone house and co-founded a sustainability institute called Newforest. Callas observed that people weren’t responding to science and research presentations on sustainability the way she expected.
“I found that it was really people’s emotional connections to nature that were helping communities and individuals move more into sustainable action,” she said. “If an individual fished in a stream as a child, they would spend their evenings and weekends protecting that stream, no matter what their political leanings were.”
Building on this idea, she started Discovering the Ecological Self, a project which encourages students to explore and build connections with natural environments and create works of art inspired by them. The UCI recently provided a faculty enrichment grant to Callas to conduct the project with at-risk youth in Monmouth County, and she continued to develop the idea through an arts residency at Joya: arte + ecología in Spain.
Through her residency with the UCI, Callas plans to immerse herself in the scientific research taking place in coastal environments at Monmouth University and share it with communities through art. She will host Discovering the Ecological Self workshops, develop her own artwork and organize a symposium with the UCI that features research on sustainability topics being conducted by University faculty.
Scientist, Dr. Phifer-Rixey was chosen as the UCI marine genetics fellow.