Snapshots Opening Reception

Circle Gallery Opening Reception Aug. 22, 2019

By Saadia Rais

On August 22nd the Circle Gallery hosted an opening ceremony for Snapshots: 50 Years at the College of Environment and Design, our exhibit kicking off the College of Environment and Design’s 50th Anniversary year-long celebration. Approximately 130 guests attended and included current students and faculty, retired faculty and alumni, as well as UGA President Jere Morehead and Provost Jack Hu. The exhibit was planned by a committee of faculty, staff and students and was designed to include stories and experiences across our five decades, first as a school and then a college.

Jennifer Lewis, Chair of the Exhibits committee, noted that the intention of the exhibit is “to showcase all of our disciplines, and express how each decade was tied to what was happening culturally, using artifacts that represent different eras. Our committee felt strongly that the exhibit should be interactive, colorful, and whimsical; that it should have an exploratory atmosphere and that our ideas would be crowd-sourced. We also wanted to include a three-dimensional aspect, which we have done by borrowing tools and objects from numerous professors emeriti. As we say in our introduction to the exhibit, we want visitors to be curious about who we are and what we do.”

Based on these aims, the gallery has three elements: a timeline, a wall display of curiosities, and an interior exhibit that will change throughout the coming months. The gallery is filled with installations involving items designed to be picked up, sifted through, and investigated. The Cabinet of Curiosities, inspired by similar collections dating back to 16th century Italy, resides on one side of the gallery, featuring artifacts from our past—from snake guards to 325-million-year-old fossils to planimeters. The center installation is called “Studio Life-Still Life” and represents the student experience in each of CED’s programs (Landscape Architecture, Historic Preservation, and Environmental Planning and Design.) This display shows off projects, photographs and mementos from across the decades, evoking studio life with desks full of memorabilia.  This central portion of the exhibit will change every couple of months to highlight elements the College is known for: particular skillsets, visionary thinking, creative problem solving, places we have long cared for, and tools of our trade.

Finally, the gallery exhibit’s surrounding timeline conveys the themes and reformist spirit of the 1960s, cueing the College’s founding in the summer of 1969. A narrative about the CED’s history and mission is organized on two of the gallery walls in a Mondrian-style grid, and rebellious relics from alumni can be found tucked away throughout the installations. In her opening speech, CE+D Dean Sonia Hirt described the influence of the 1960s on the founding of the College in 1969:

This was the summer of Woodstock and the first walk by a human on the moon. It’s also the year of publication of “Design with Nature,” a book by Scottish environmentalist Ian McHarg, which transformed thinking about the relationship between people and nature. Several of his students came to teach here. 1969 culminated a decade that saw the rise of America’s most consequential civil and environmental movements. It’s the decade that gave us the National Historic Preservation Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the idea of Earth Day, first marked in 1970. The formation of SED was manifestation of the reformist spirit of the 60s but also the product of the vision of one man, our first Dean Hubert Owens, whose leadership we also celebrate today.

The CED 50th Anniversary Exhibit Committee members include: Jose Buitrago, Marianne Cramer, David Evans, Jennifer Lewis, Eric MacDonald, Eleonora Machado, Katherine Melcher, Rosanna Rivero, Liz Solomon and Melissa Tufts. Constructed pieces were created by Mickey Boyd. Photographs of the exhibit opening ceremony were shot by MLA student Saadia Rais. Numerous graduate students helped with the reception, including Kristin Ramey who oversaw the refreshments and an army of volunteers.