9th Annual My Arizona Lecture: "An Ecology of Relationships: Art, Design and Environmental Agency" by Professor Ellen McMahon


Fri, 11/18/2016 - 15:30


Picture of Ellen McMahon

Ellen McMahon will trace the trajectory of her teaching career and creative practice through the lens of the generative relationships formed across multiple disciplines, with the community, and with generations of students in the School of Art.
She will discuss over a decade of collaborations with the Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans (CEDO), a three-year interdisciplinary research and teaching project which culminated in the book, Ground|Water: The Art, Design and Science of a Dry River, and her current work on the effects of climate change on Arizona’s forests. Through these projects McMahon provides an opportunity for her students to experience firsthand the benefits of multidisciplinary approaches to complex environmental problems. In the process they develop a sense of their power and responsibility as agents of change as artists, designers, collaborators, and citizens. 
This lecture will demonstrate how her own creative practice and student projects raise awareness about and catalyze a response to environmental risks, illuminate issues of environmental justice, and help us to imagine and work together toward more sustainable futures. 


Ellen McMahon came to the University of Arizona in 1980 to study Scientific Illustration. She worked as an illustrator and graphic designer for several years and is now a professor in the School of Art. She has been teaching and publishing about the social, cultural, and environmental dimensions of art and design since 1990 and received a Fulbright Scholars grant to work as a designer and visual artist with the Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico in 2007. McMahon served as project director and co-editor of Ground|Water: The Art, Design and Science of a Dry River, which received national and international design recognition. In 2015, McMahon curated the exhibition “Marking Time to a Changing Climate” for the Bryant Bannister Tree-Ring Research Building on the University of Arizona campus and organized and moderated the related panel “On Tree Mortality through the Lens of Art and Science” for the international conference “Balance/UnBalance: Water, Climate and Place, Reimaging Environments.”
McMahon’s work has been exhibited and collected widely and is featured in Clean New World: Culture, Politics, and Graphic Design by Maud Lavin, (MIT Press, 2002) and Graphic Design: Sustainable Principles and Practices by Peter Claven Fine, (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016).  

ENR2 Building, Room S107
Reception to follow

Key Word(s) of the Page: 

Send to college calendar: 


Mark as important date: