Our Local Mountain Man

I’d like to share my latest experience of the fine arts interrelating with the sciences. Lately in my Environmental Science class, we’ve been able to enjoy many guest lecturers. However, one lecturer from a couple weeks ago was undoubtedly my favorite.

A man who leads local sustainability breezed into the lecture hall wearing secondhand clothes and a face full of crimson whiskers. My classmates and I could already sense that this man had a different air about him as compared to the other scientific missionaries before him. In fact, he was different; he informed us that he had been a fine arts major. This man was a sculptor, and so invested in his artistic training and passion that he was also a professor of this skill. My own attention was captured as soon as he revealed this; thanks to this English class I’m always on the lookout for interdisciplinary connections between the fine arts and the sciences in particular.

While he had no problem introducing his lecture and slinging out a few vocabulary terms for us to grab and scribble down, he was not truly comfortable and confident until he powered up his computer. Wordy, content-dense PowerPoint slides were nowhere to be seen, and in their stead were merely pictures. This man filled our hour and fifteen minute lecture period with his incredible life story, all of it pivoting around the obligation he felt to minimize his impact on our earth’s environment. He and his wife have spent their last seven years building their home using only materials that would not put pressure on the demand market, such as used and upcycled materials. Their end result is a homestead that puts little to no stress on the environment. He admitted that it could not have been done had it not been for his finely tuned sculpting and artistic skills.

To me, this was incredible! It was something that I could only dream of doing. My connection to him and his family’s mission was immediate, as I have always been passionate about the environment and aware of my impact on it. This interest goes so deep that every day I mourn the fact that I don’t have the intellectual makeup to major in the sciences so that I could go into an environmental field of work. Seeing that this man and his family could engage the elements of the disciplines that I am most comfortable and familiar with under the flag of science was inspiring, to say the least.

In Joe Moran’s Interdisciplinarity, he quotes C.P. Snow, saying, “The clashing of two subjects, two disciplines… ought to produce creative chances” (135). In this instance, creativity poured from every effort. Every obstacle that these people were met with they were able to solve with their inclusive knowledge of the sciences and the arts. They took chances and risks with their creativity. The result of this was an incredible home and an incredible story to share with whoever will hear it.

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