'Gazing Deeply' explores how Science and Art are Saving Mammoth Cave

On February 25, the Kentucky Museum opened Gazing Deeply: The Art and Science of Mammoth Cave, an exhibition that showcases how WKU’s backyard—the unique landscape of Mammoth Cave—is being studied, interpreted, and inspiring action on environmental change. The exhibition provides guests with an in-depth look at how scientists and artists work together to encourage protection of one of the world’s largest karst landscapes, as well as how applied learning at WKU is empowering the next generation of scientists, artists, and changemakers.

“The Kentucky Museum is excited to be furthering our work with WKU partners in such a profound place-based way,” said Director Brent Björkman, “This exhibit speaks to the heart of how integrative applied research, brought together through multiple voices from both the arts and sciences, can come together to share our fragile world with both our students and the larger community.”

Gazing Deeply is co-curated by Dr. Chris Groves (Geology), Julie Schuck (Art), Lee Anne Bledsoe and Autumn Singer (Crawford Hydrology Lab). It features the works of Schuck’s Drawing I (Art 140) and Drawing II (Art 240) classes, which worked with Groves and Bledsoe to interpret scientific studies at Mammoth Cave. The exhibit is produced in partnership with Mammoth Cave National Park, which provided critical insights into the cave’s history, scientific study, and interpretation. The team also worked with karst explorers and scientists from around the world, who interpreted historical illustrations of the cave and provided insights into their work. The exhibit is supported by funding from the Dorothy Grider Exhibits Fund, Cave Research Foundation, National Speleological Society, and National Speleological Foundation.

“This exhibit has been an amazing opportunity, not just to fulfill the Museum’s mission—but to showcase how collaboration is a hallmark of WKU,” stated Tiffany Isselhardt, the Museum’s Development and Marketing Manager and supervising curator for the exhibition. “The chance to work with WKU faculty, staff, students, Mammoth Cave National Park rangers, and international scientists has demonstrated how WKU’s focus on applied learning can benefit everyone in our community and protect the karst landscape of South-Central Kentucky.”

Gazing Deeply will have extensive related programming, including field trips, availability for WKU class tours, and the upcoming Conservation of Fragile Karst Resources: A Workshop on Sustainability and Community (to be held at WKU from May 18-22, 2020). The workshop brings together United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) science and conservation programs for the first time, with participants engaging in four days of scientific sessions, interactive workshops, guided tours, and field excursions. The Kentucky Museum’s Development and Marketing Manager, Tiffany Isselhardt, will be presenting a workshop about the exhibit and how scientists can work with artists and museums to interpret and showcase their work.

“I’m hopeful that our campus and community will find Gazing Deeply to be a highly relevant and engaging exhibition,” Isselhardt stated. “It addresses critical questions about how we can all work together to preserve the landscape we call home.”

For more information on the exhibit, including links to virtual components, visit https://www.wku.edu/kentuckymuseum/exhibits/gazingdeeply.php

To arrange WKU class tours of the exhibit, please visit https://www.wku.edu/kentuckymuseum/education/wku_faculty_class_reservation_request.php

About Kentucky Museum

Now in our 80th year, the Kentucky Museum celebrates all aspects of South-Central Kentucky’s art, history, and culture. “Kentuckians need to know Kentucky” was the museum’s earliest conceptual framework, which took shape in the eyes of WKU’s founding president Henry Hardin Cherry. Today, we are a steadfast educational campus partner helping to inspire innovation, elevate community, and transform the lives of our students and the community.

About WKU Department of Geology and the Crawford Hydrology Lab

The WKU Department of Geology offers programs that put students at the forefront for tackling global challenges like climate change and sustainable energy. With multi-discipline faculty, their programs focus on holistic and muti-faceted research, applied learning with local and international companies, and state-of-the-art analytical and computational labs, including the Crawford Hydrology Laboratory. Students can obtain degrees in Geology, Earth Science, and Geoscience at the Bachelor’s or Master’s levels.

Crawford Hydrology Laboratory provides professional consulting and field and laboratory services regarding groundwater tracing in karst and non-karst areas. They specialize in groundwater investigations with the use of fluorescent dyes and utilize techniques developed and enhanced over the past 38 years. They also provide quality supplies and analyses for groundwater traces and conduct full field investigations. Crawford Hydrology Laboratory has extensive experience conducting dye trace investigations for commercial clients as well as government agencies.

About WKU Department of Art

The WKU Department of Art offers paths to explore, experience, and expand the possibilities of artistic expression, an indispensable part of human society. With programs that vary in length and concentration, the WKU Department of Art supports and challenges students along a variety of life-enriching paths. The BFA degree in studio art or graphic design is a comprehensive, focused program for students interested in pursuing a professional creative career. Our range of BA programs in art education, art history, and studio art introduce our students to a variety of career paths that benefit from studies in the visual arts.

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