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Crutchfield's exhibit explores the relationship between humans and nature


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Who: David Crutchfield, assistant professor of architecture

What he is doing?
Exploring western society’s evolving relationship with nature in his exhibit titled “The Green Aesthetic,” in the Renaissance Hall gallery located downtown at 650 NP Ave. The exhibit is free and open to the public Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., until July 31.

About the exhibit:
What do the things we create say about us? What do they say about our relationship with nature? Crutchfield invites visitors to ponder these questions as they view the words of 24 eminent individuals from literature, fine art and architecture. Quotes from renowned individuals throughout history including Ansel Adams, William Shakespeare and Le Corbusier, cover the gallery walls. Student-generated proposals regarding green living, design and architecture, are projected onto a canvas suspended from the ceiling.

Why is this human/nature relationship important to examine?
“In general, people see nature as something that is to be used. It is a utilitarian relationship as opposed to something that is to be respected on its own,” Crutchfield said. “We are increasingly seeing evidence that this current relationship with nature is unsustainable and my hope is that by seeing a different way of relating to nature, we can learn a better way.”

What inspired you to do this?
“Beyond it being a course that I teach, my research interest is in the relation between man and nature and how that is reflected in the built environment. This exhibit is a way to show what I’ve found so far.”

Why are the words of writers and artists important to architects?
“As architects we can learn from other creative disciplines where we might be headed in the reflection of this relation.”

When did you become concerned about the human/nature relationship?
“For most of my 20 years of professional practice it didn’t occur to me that there was an issue with this, but over time I became aware of what I saw as the huge waste and mismanagement of the natural world.  Over time my concern built up and I decided to investigate it further.”

What are some examples of waste?
“One example I can give is how so much of construction materials on job sites are thrown away. A better example is when we demolish buildings, all of that goes to landfills and it’s been shown that 30% of landfills is construction waste. That all costs us money and resources, and damage to nature.”

What can be done?
“One thing we can do is to learn to effectively utilize materials that can be easily biodegradable and minimize waste. But in a larger sense, we need to reconsider what nature means to us.”

Your favorite quote from the exhibit:
“As we enter the new millennium, architecture has one primary mission – to progress from the ‘ego-centric’ to ‘eco-centric’,” from James Wines, dean of the school of architecture at the University of Pennsylvania.

What is the key message you want visitors, especially students, to walk away with?
“I would like them to reflect on their own place in nature and consider how society has framed that for them. And on whether that is the way they want to continue. It is our choice, after all.”

Additional comments:
“I want to thank Benjamin Davis, a graduate architecture student, for all of his hard work and assistance. The show wouldn’t be near what it is without his help. And also a ‘thank you’ to Shotwells for loaning the beautiful live plantings and the benches, and to NDSU for the space.”

Contact: David Crutchfield, or 701.231.7316

Student Focused. Land Grant. Research University.

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North Dakota State University
Phone: +1 (701) 231-1068 - Fax: (701) 231-1989
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Last Updated: Friday, December 03, 2021 3:37:09 PM
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