Becky Gumbrewicz has a passion for the environment and is working with artists to exhibit artwork that addresses environmental stressors. Photo courtesy of Becky Gumbrewicz.

A University of Rhode Island student is planning to change how the community thinks about the environment through her honors project art showcase.

Becky Gumbrewicz, a senior environmental science and management major, will host an art exhibit titled “Elevating the Environment through Artistic Expression” on May 1. The showcase will include student artwork that illustrates an aspect or issue affecting the environment today. Students from all majors are allowed to submit work, and both visual and performance art of any medium can be submitted.

“It’s basically an opportunity for students at URI to submit pieces of art based on their own interpretations of the environment,” Gumbrewicz said. “What we wanted to do was create an opportunity that allows the vast majority of the student body to participate.”

Gumbrewicz said she was always interested in the arts, but came from a more traditional science background. She said her work as a student assistant at URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography inspired her to combine the two disciplines. In addition, Gumbrewicz said that research suggests that humans can comprehend difficult concepts such as the sciences easier when explained with art.

“The idea stemmed from ‘how can we best communicate science that raises awareness amongst the public in a way that makes sense and would spark action?’” Gumbrewicz said.

There have already been several submissions. According to Gumbrewicz, most of the submissions so far have been drawings, paintings or photographs, but there has been a wide range of mediums used. Gumbrewicz said that she spoke to a fashion design course at URI about her project, and hopes that more unique submissions such as fashion garments, videos or mood boards are created for the exhibit.

Artwork that applies to any sort of environmental theme is welcome. Gumbrewicz said that some of the topics covered in some of her submissions include endangered species, climate change, sustainability and pollution.

Judith Swift, the director of the Coastal Institute and a communications studies professor, is Gumbrewicz’s project sponsor. Swift said that Gumbrewicz has been incredibly organized in working on her project, and her enthusiasm about her project is clear.

“She’s very passionate about art,” Swift said. “She loves art in general, not just visual art. She’s also very committed to environmental issues. Becky took the two things she really loved and put them together”

Swift is most looking forward to seeing students who might not typically participate in creative endeavors create beautiful art.

“My experience with students is that they’ll sometimes say ‘I can’t sing, or I can’t write poetry, or whatever,” Swift said. “But when they’re put in situations where they try this, they discover realms of potential in themselves they never knew they had. I hope there are visual and performing arts majors, but I also hope students who are in different majors participate.”

Gumbrewicz is still looking for more art submissions. Selected finalists will present at Gumbrewicz’s art exhibition on May 1. The top three artists artists will receive a cash prize and a certificate of award. Art submissions must be an original creation by the student and 100 megabytes or less. Submissions are open until March 18, and can be filled out at elevate-our-envt.