What do you get when you slather paint made of moss – yes, the deep green stuff that grows on stone fences – onto a giant carved image? If you’re as innovative as URI grad Chelsea Fredrikson, you get a stunning work of art that continues to grow and inspire.
At URI, art major Fredrikson recognized some biases toward artistic endeavors that inspired to merge her love of landscapes, the ocean, and microscopic creatures with her artistic talents. Her mission: to transform education for generations of artists and scientists that come after her. “I don’t think it’s widely understood that creative thinking is an important part of the sciences, and that art can be a critical way to help students understand the world around them. I want to encourage educators to create curriculum and experiences that bridge scientific and creative learning,” she says. Modeling her own philosophy, she chooses subject matter that’s related to the natural world and created “moss murals’’ and other pieces that are utterly unique – and mesmerizing.
So much so that she received a URI Undergraduate Research Grant and was paired with URI oceanography researcher John Kirkpatrick, who studies sediments deep in the seafloor, to help create an art space at our Narragansett Bay Campus to inspire collaboration between art and science students. She applied printmaking ink to a large Plexiglas canvas, mimicking the slides from the seafloor. Illuminated from behind, her “slides” reveal a watery, dark palette of deep blues, reds, black, and brown. “You can’t really see anything that you would identify as a creature, just light blurry spots that might represent oxygen or bacteria or something that isn’t sediment,’’ she says. “As images, they are almost reminiscent of the night sky.”
Her senior honors project was the moss mural she created by “painting” a blend of moss and other organic materials onto a large carving of a Water Bear – a microscopic animal that lives in, wait for it, mosses. Until the hot summer sun took it’s toll on the living art, live moss grew out of her “paint” and filled in areas of the carving.
That’s the thing about art at URI – it’s not limited to the classics. Whatever inspires your creativity, there’s a way to make it part of your experience here.