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Professor Curlee Holton is developing a collaboration between the Experimental Printmaking Institute and University of Costa Rica this summer

Curlee Holton, professor and head of art and director of Lafayette’s Experimental Printmaking Institute (EPI), will be traveling to San Jose, Costa Rica, to research and develop an international exchange project between students at EPI and the University of Costa Rica. The project will focus on the integration of the visual arts and science to promote environmental awareness. He will be in Costa Rica from May 11 through June 15.

  • Learning the International Language of Art. By Carolyn Burns ’09

“This project and research offer an opportunity to expand the reputation of EPI and Lafayette College in Latin America,” explains Holton. “Costa Rican graphic artists have produced some of the finest art and cultural legacy of any group of artists and are breaking new ground by incorporating the natural environment into their work. As a broad thinking institution with global relationships based on a deep appreciation for education and human growth, Lafayette as well as EPI would be enriched by establishing such an international and global initiative.”

Holton’s proposed project will involve collaboration between artists, printmakers, and art students from the states who are connected with EPI and those from the University of Costa Rica to create works of visual art incorporating the natural environment. Examples of such projects would include the use of natural fibers from plants to make paper, or simply using natural settings for creative stimulation.

Assisting Holton will be art major Carolyn Burns ’09 (Wallingford, Conn.). Burns has been involved with EPI since her first year at Lafayette and has assisted Holton with several specialized projects.

Also working with Holton on the project will be Alberto Murillo, professor and head of art at the University of Costa Rica and frequent artist in residence at EPI. Murillo has hosted several EPI exhibitions and workshops in Costa Rica.

Holton’s research will involve documenting the work of various Costa Rican artists who are focused on merging the visual arts with science. After gathering ideas, along with institutional and workshop data, resource materials and ideas from artists and educators, he will meet with interested art and science students to develop possible exchange projects. These students will then collaborate on a first on-site trial project integrating art and science while Holton documents the outcomes.

“This first project is the first phase of a project that focuses on the integration of natural settings and creative artistic expression,” explains Holton. “Costa Rica is known around the world for its tropical geography and natural reserves. We will collaborate with the University of Costa Rica to establish future exchanges that invite students both in the arts and sciences to do mutual investigations that are documented artistically. This sort of project will aid our students abroad and at home as we advance our strategic initiative to be globally sensitive and better understand our environmental connectedness.”

Burns will work with fellow Costa Rican art students on the trial project, which will, as Holton says, help her to build lifelong relationships based on scholarly achievement and mutual respect.

“An international experience is not only a summer in a foreign country, but an opportunity to build scholarly-based friendships and projects that enhance and advance living and learning in a way that enriches all those who participate,” says Holton.

After the trial project, Holton will establish a long term project team with whom he will develop the larger international project. He will then meet with administrators at the University of Costa Rica and Lafayette to discuss procedures for the project.

Holton believes in the potential of a cooperative project of this magnitude to thrive at Lafayette because, “Lafayette embraces diverse educational models, as it does people, with a respect for knowledge and learning in and out of the classroom,” as he says.

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