Where Art and Sustainability Intersect: a studio art major’s cool plans for the summer

Instead of soaking up the sun, studio art student and freshman Oluwaseyi Odufuye is getting ready to spend her part of her summer in the Arctic. The 12-day arctic expedition will have Odufuye and fellow students trekking through snow, attending leadership development trainings and a given a chance to network with companies and representatives from around the world. 

That’s what I like about art. It's so limitless.

“It's a life-changing learning and networking experience… so, I would say it's more of a movement,” Odufuye said. “It's a great opportunity to really connect with people from all around the world who share the same passion and interest, and generate ideas for [sustainability] solutions going forward.” 

Odufuye found out about the expedition, created by the climate change mitigation nonprofit 2041 Foundation, from co-founder and leader of the expedition Robert Swan after he visited her sustainability UGS class. As Odufuye’s passion for sustainability grew, Swan’s expedition seemed to merge her various interests in art and cultural anthropology. 

team of researchers in a boat on the right side of image to group of seals in Arctic waters

Through the experience, she hopes to explore creative ways to document and track issues of sustainability in rural communities, most specifically communities in Nigeria. Odufuye plans to use various mediums such as photography, film and writing to creatively document and study how our lack of sustainable actions here in America affect rural communities around the world. 

“That’s what I like about art. It's so limitless,” she said.

Odufuye is interested in the idea of social practice, an artistic practice that focuses on the connection between audiences, social systems and activism. Even in Austin, we’ve seen a surge of interest in social practice and ecological art involving the Arctic. The Visual Arts Center recently hosted an exhibition late last year titled Exploring the Arctic Ocean, featuring eight diverse projects that rely on the power of visual media to make the unknown waters of the Arctic accessible. Likewise, the Harry Ransom Center was host to photographer Louie Palu’s large format photographs frozen in ice blocks during this year’s South by Southwest festival. 

“Right now, there are so many ideas [for this trip],” Odufuye said. From the possibility of documenting her trip, to meeting officials from all over the world to hoping to create an organization focused on sustainability afterwards, Odufuye knows this expedition is “a perfect opportunity” for her. 

Oluwaseyi Odufuye is still raising money for her Arctic Trip this summer! Money donated will help pay for her airfare and equipment needed for the trip. For more information you can visit her fundraising campaign here

Back to top