Wilderness and Civ.

Date of Award

August 2018

Degree Type





Sam Van Aken

Second Advisor

Peter Beasecker


Ecology, Fine arts, Future, Science Fiction, Sculpture


In this work, I will compare the ideas that ground my aesthetic practice to three critical thinkers, Jane Bennett, Robin Wall Kimmerer, and Timothy Morton. I will frame the paper through Morton’s idea of the Ecological Thought, in an attempt to ground my sense, that ecology needs to be freed from its shackles as a scientific discipline, relegated to The EPA, conservationists, and hippies, and instead is a fundamental tool to examine health in our systems.

I make sculpture, installation, and video that speculates on the future of ecology. In examining the interconnectivity between seemingly disparate systems such as manufacturing, waste disposal, and our bodies, I expose them as equal accumulations of human and non-human. This critique of the proposed supremacy of human agency aims, in part, to reframe contemporary ecology with a perspective that remains hopeful without being afraid to dig in when things get weird. My work practices intimacy with our waste, presence with our extinction event, and looks for sweetness in thinking ecologically.


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