In College of Fine Arts and Communications, Faculty and Staff, Interdisciplinary Collaboration, School of Music

Thirty students and nine professors from BYU and England’s Wirral Metropolitan College (WMC) gathered in Yellowstone National Park in June to collaborate across disciplines for the purpose of making art inspired by the scenery.

The result is a product of BYU’s Laycock Center, the on-campus organization that hosts and supports a community for creative thinkers from various specialties. Students and faculty from the Department of Visual Arts, Department of Dance and the School of Music met up with the WMC students in Yellowstone at the end of June. Joseph Ostraff, a professor of visual arts and an influential participant in the Yellowstone project, said the different artistic disciplines meshed more easily than expected.

“It was amazing what dance and music brought to visual arts,” Ostraff said. “There were several natural overlaps. We had visual arts students dancing what dance students had choreographed, and some dancers made their own artistic books.”

After collaborating for five days, the project culminated in the exhibition of the Yellowstone-inspired arts, Western Wilds, in Gallery 303 of the Harris Fine Arts Center. There are several pieces on display, from 53 artists, all of which are inspired by the wildlife, nature and scenery of Yellowstone. Kori Wakamatsu, a BYU professor of dance who was also heavily involved in the project, learned much about the creative process from the students.

“It was really enlightening to work with others who have this artistic sensibility but have a very different way of displaying their impressions,” Wakamatsu said. “For me, that’s the beauty of art–you can all have a shared experience and express your thoughts and impressions in such varied and valued ways.”

Daniel Nash, a music composition major, collaborated with dance and visual arts students to make a video featuring the video, pictures, music and dance that some of the students felt inspired to capture and create while in Yellowstone. Nash mentioned how much he enjoyed composing music in this setting.

“It was so fun to collaborate with the dancers,” Nash said. “I had never done that before, and I definitely want to do that again. I loved the different perspective they have on music.”

Edward Barboza, a studio arts major, created a book detailing how water functions and how it’s necessary for Yellowstone. Barboza was introduced to the Laycock Center’s project by his professor, Ostraff, but had visited the park several times before. This time, he found inspiration in places he wasn’t expecting.

“It was more inspiring to be around different people in Yellowstone,” Barboza said. “They become a part of the landscape of Yellowstone.”

Nicole Dugdale, a senior studying dance, co-choreographed a piece with Stefani Mortensen and used some of the visual arts and music students as the dancers. She said the cross-discipline collaboration will help her out in her future career.

“The collaboration forces you to think differently and see things from another artist’s perspective,” Dugdale said. “The whole experience gave me more respect for other art forms and the work the artists put into it. That’s important for any artist now because there is a lot of collaboration between artists in the real world.”

To see Western Wilds, visit Gallery 303 in the Harris Fine Arts Center.

 All visual arts pieces can be found in Gallery 303 of the Harris Fine Arts Center. Photo by Jessica Bowles.
All visual arts pieces can be found in Gallery 303 of the Harris Fine Arts Center. Photo by Jessica Bowles.

G303-yellowstone1070This interactive piece by Austin Gillett invites viewers to dust their fingers in ash before touching the pages of the book. Photo by Jessica Bowles.

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