CALS and the culture of ag

CALS’ reputation as a scientific innovator is well established. Less heralded is that CALS has been a cultural innovator as well, taking pains to illuminate the ways in which the sciences and the arts intersect—and why each way of knowing the world is so important to the other.

John Steuart Curry’s 1942 mural in the Biochemistry Building, created when Curry was artist-in-residence—a CALS-based program— offers a prime example. Another is the Wisconsin Regional Art Program (WRAP), now headquartered at the Division of Continuing Studies, which was born in (what was then known as) the College of Agriculture as the Wisconsin Rural Art Program, with the mission of fostering the development of nonprofessional artists. And Robert Gard, a professor with UW Extension (shown in the accompanying photo), was charged with fostering rural theater and writing programs through his Office of Community Arts Development, housed in Ag Hall.

But there are contemporary examples as well. Several CALS faculty, staff and student involvement in the Fermentation Fest and the associated Farm/Art DTour. Some CALS horticulture professors incorporate visits to the Chazen Museum of Art into their curricula. For more about these and other examples of the college’s past and current involvement in rural art, read The Culture of Ag by Jennifer Smith in the summer 2012 issue of Grow magazine.