Emma Rockey

BGS in Environmental Studies with a minor in Visual Art
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What are your plans for the future?

My goal is to use my education to promote environmental awareness through public involvement on a creative level. Depending on future global affairs, I hope to travel and act as an advocate for sustainable urbanization, conservation of native biomes, and work as a project director in cities that prioritize an integration of ecology and development.

Describe a defining moment in your time in the School of the Arts.

During the Spring of 2019, I enrolled in a sculpture class called "Art Inhabiting the Ecosphere" with Matt Burke, because it would fill elective requirements for both my major and minor. This was a serendipitous decision, and at the time, I did not know it would change my perception of the world.

A defining project for the class was entitled "Art Walk", and in the beginning, I couldn't conceive the concept of such a sculpture. It was a semester-long endeavor as we were encouraged to document a walk with an alternative viewpoint; to see our environment through a creative lens. I soon began employing this idea every time I walked anywhere, picking up random objects on the ground that I wouldn't have noticed had I not been paying attention. Soon, I had collections of strange nuts, rocks, fragments of plastic, mushrooms and bones, discarded cigarette cartons, and anything else that someone might toss out of a car window.

I made small sculptures of these things and left them in conspicuous places, where observers would be forced to notice something usually scattered in the peripheral. Every object I encounter now has the potential to become a sculpture, and tell a story of connection.

This practice is now ingrained into me on certain levels, and has removed a sense of separation from my environment. I no longer see objects as ephemeral, and "trash" does not just go "away". It came from somewhere, and will continue on its own journey forever. By taking a creative approach, we can define moments within the journey, and integrate mindfulness into every point of view.

What has influenced your creativity here at KU?

This experience carried through to the following semester, when I took the succession of this class with Brandi Lee Cooper: "Sculpture Intercepting the Waste Stream". My sculptural abilities were challenged and refined, all while working as a team with the entire class to organize an exhibition at the Lawrence Public Library. By sharing our work with the community, I discovered the implications of environmental creativity, and its ability to affect change internally and externally. Brandi Lee taught me to dream vision into being, and this message will stick with me for the rest of my life.