This course takes place within the southern reaches of the Rocky Mountains, the Rio Grande rift, and the Southern Colorado Plateau. Throughout this field course students and instructors visit sites on Puebloan land, Spanish land grants, Diné (Navajo) Nation, and other lands throughout the region hosted by local artists, Knowledge Holders, scientists, and guides.
The course will also visit various public lands including National Forests, National Parks, and Bureau of Land Management lands.
6 total semester credits/9 total quarter units:
All courses offered through the Wild Rockies Field Institute are accredited through the University of Montana and the School for Extended and Lifelong Learning. Each Wild Rockies Field Institute course is approved and supported by University of Montana departmental leadership and faculty.
“Southwest Climate Studio Art: Change and Resilience in the American Southwest” offers two independent courses, each worth 3 semester credits, for a total of 6 credits earned for successfully completing the program.
Quarter System Students:
For colleges and universities on the quarter system, both courses are typically worth 4.5 quarter units, for a total of 9 units upon successful completion of the program.
Block System Students:
At institutions where one course is equal to one credit, each class (e.g. CCS 391) within a WRFI course is typically equal to one credit.
Southwest Climate Studio Art Course Description
Southwest Climate Studio Art: Change and Resilience in the American Southwest engages students in frontcountry camping across Northern and Western New Mexico. The course is split into two sections, each lasting about two weeks; the entire course is spent in a frontcountry setting, being vehicle supported. Some days include extended day hikes and throughout the course students will spend time engaging with community members, artists, and scientists throughout the region. Throughout the course, students will visit small rural towns and villages, as well as larger cities throughout New Mexico and also visit with local citizens, land managers, tribal members, elected officials, farmers, and ranchers. These guest speakers expose students to diverse perspectives on the landscapes and cultures of the area. During these visits, students will have the opportunity to re-supply with food and other basic supplies.
Students will read extensively about local relationships with climate and climate changes in the Southwest, learn some of the history and traditions behind regional art practices, experiment with various methods, and think critically about needs for communicating about climate within and between communities. Daily class discussions are complemented by meetings with local guest speakers, written assignments and art projects, and work exchanges within the community.
Southwest Climate Studio Art is an interdisciplinary course that attempts to provide a rich contextual view of the relationships and issues we study, emphasizing the contributions students can make with their direct experiences in the region and connections with diverse perspectives within the community. The course culminates with a public exhibition of students’ visual works, artist statements, and a final paper synthesizing student learning across the academic disciplines represented during the course.
Section One: Northern New Mexico
In Northern New Mexico, students will learn about climate resilience through community-centered agricultural traditions, Spanish and Indigenous artistic influences, and fire and water issues in the American West. Case studies include Acequia culture of small communities in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, fire ecology of the Valles Caldera, and water culture and the Cochiti Dam. Towards the end of Section One, students will focus on presenting preliminary studies for a body of creative work.
Section Two: Western New Mexico
In Section Two, students will visit sites of historic significance to Indigenous, Spanish, and American peoples and meet with Indigenous artists and leaders before spending five days at a remote base camp location with cabins, workshop space, and shared community to dive deep into their creative processes. During this time, students will have the opportunity to sink into their studio work. To round out the course, students will visit Chaco Canyon National Historic Park and return to Albuquerque where they will participate in a show of their work.
Pre/Post Course Work description
After the course, students will complete an academic paper reflecting on community climate resilience by answering the following questions:
- How have and do communities respond to climate crises?
- How does collective action impact climate outcomes?
- How do modern and traditional ways of addressing climate intersect?
- How is the story and data of climate change communicated today?
Course Sponsor: ArtToolkit
This course is sponsored and supported by our partner, ArtToolkit.
At Art Toolkit, we believe that art can be a tool for self-expression, communication, exploration, and scientific inquiry. We aim to empower our customers to create art daily by providing well-designed tools and materials.
In 2004, upon graduating from Carleton College, artist, and Art Toolkit founder Maria Coryell-Martin embarked on a year-long Watson Fellowship to work alongside climate scientists and researchers around the world. This experience inspired a resolve to continue working as an expeditionary artist and to raise environmental awareness in audiences of all ages. After a memorable experience juggling clumsy sketching tools while crawling in the sand for hours to monitor walruses in Greenland, Maria found she needed a more compact sketching and painting kit. The Art Toolkit and Pocket Palette were born.
Today, we create watercolor sketching supplies for urban and wilderness adventures and support a passionate community of artists-beginners and professionals alike. Our unique configurable palettes are available in three sizes, the Demi Palette, Pocket Palette, and Folio Palette. Lightweight and compact, they are perfect for sketching anytime, anywhere. Our namesake, the Art Toolkit, is a rugged all-in-one field art kit stocked with everything a watercolor sketcher might need. You can find our products, along with a selection of our favorite sketching tools, on our website.