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  • Writer's pictureMeghann Ormond

Art Meets Science at WUR

WUR Science Shop's Art Meets Science project is bringing together Wageningen artists and university researchers to learn from each other and develop something together based on their diverse passions, talents and knowledges. I'm pleased to not only be a part of the project's coordination team together with Tossa Harding and Leneke Pfeiffer from WUR and members of the Platform Beroepskunstenaars Wageningen, but also to be able to partner up with environmental artist Kate Foster for these next months.


'Home is where the compost is'

The point of departure for this collaboration with Kate is our shared appreciation for composting (I'm making videos of the worms in my compost bin these days!) and first-hand experience with being immigrants in the Netherlands. We're inspired by Maria Puig de la Bellacasa's description of soil as 'teaming and teeming', immigration and sense of belonging/connection to the land, and composting and gardening as 'homing' practices, as well as seeking to critically examine constructions of 'native' and 'alien' plant species.


Thanks to Kate and fellow WUR Cultural Geography colleague Dienke Stomph gifting me a bokashi composting bin last Spring and to long exchanges with Vrij Universiteit colleague and theologian Johan Roeland, I began to explore these themes in an essay soon to come out in a special issue of CrossCurrents on gardening and spirituality called 'Unsettled: On learning to honor powerful strangers in an “immigrant world”'. The idea behind it is that, for people conscious and critical of their settler-colonial immigration heritage, the desire to forge and claim a deep connection with a plot of land can generate deep ambivalence. Engaging with Robin Wall Kimmerer's reflections on indigeneity and migration in Braiding Sweetgrass, the essay explores the ways in which embodied and material practices of gardening and caring for the soil enable visceral recognition of both the urgency for – and the challenges associated with – decolonizing relationships with more-than-human beings that have been subjugated in diverse ways through colonial capitalism over time and space.


I'll be keeping track of our collaboration here on my website, so stay tuned! Our final output will be ready in October 2024!


For more on Kate Foster's work visit: https://peatcultures.wordpress.com

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