Chattahoochee Explorers Club

By: Michael Mc Falls  

In the fall of 2018, Mark Dion and I developed a cross-disciplinary Honors/Art class at Columbus State University (CSU). We wanted to focus the students' research on the Chattahoochee River. We started this discussion around explorer, naturalist, artist, and writer William Bartram, who traveled in Georgia on the river in the mid-1770s and from that point we studied the river's ecology, history, and the role of art in relationship to the river. The students in this class were equally divided, eight art majors and eight honor students, non-majors. The non-majors were from various disciplines, such as Philosophy to Biology. We (the students, Mark, and me) took twenty-one field research excursions throughout the first half of the semester. We met with folklorist, scientist, outsider artists, ecologist, business leaders, and other stakeholders to discuss the Chattahoochee River and its impact on Columbus, GA, and the region. Each art major was teamed with a non-major, and they did more in-depth research in the areas and topics of interest, which led to the production of artworks that were shown in an exhibition at the end of the semester. Ultimately, those meetings, the field research, the art making, led to the creation of a Wunderkammer or Cabinet of Wonder, that is now part of the permanent collection of the Columbus Museum. In this paper, I discuss the creation of the class, the field research that we conducted, and present the final works produced by the students, Mark Dion, and myself.

Chattahoochee River, Visual Art, Anthropocene, Ecology, History, Site-responsive, Public Art
Arts Education
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Mr. Michael Mc Falls

Professor of Art/ Director of Pasaquan, Art, Columbus State University, United States
United States