Dr. Terri Witek, Professor of English here at Stetson, came to the Environmental Land Art Class on February 23rd to talk about the environment, writing, and how the two intersect. Speaking about remaking texts through codes as well as environmental strategies, Dr. Witek taught students not only to translate and repurpose writings and art but also to know that an explanation of their art isn’t required.
To Dr. Witek, environmental art is “a life practice – it’s about being outside and being in the world and being observant,” and being out in nature is very important to her. Recently, Dr. Witek and other members of Stetson faculty hiked 35 miles on the Atlantic coastline from Titusville all the way to New Smyrna Beach. Later, she created a map around DeLand and brought along a fragile egg, and experiences like these have become an illuminating facet of environmental involvement. Paying particular attention to the way that people talk about the environment and represent the environment, Dr. Witek feels its presence in daily life quite personally.
She believes that text and the environment are certainly intertwined, not only on a surface level, but also how people have used remade texts. Dr. Witek talked about the repurposing, reusing, and reassembling of texts, including examples of texts that have been turned sideways, translated into weaving, and coded elaborately. Even writing can be considered a pattern too, and the translation side of art, writing, and coding, is an integral part of the process.
Her classes include assignments involving the environment, and she encourages all of her students to think critically about the world around them. Students in the Environmental Land Art class were charged with two prompts about nature and the world outside of the classroom. Eventually, these writings will be coded to create a new life and meaning. Dr. Witek included that at times we may feel the need to explain ourselves or translate back to the original meaning of a piece, but, “neither saying nor refrain[ing] from saying, but giving a sign,” was her final advice to the class in future projects.
This fall, Dr. Witek will be offering her writing and poetry workshop and encourages everybody who might be interested to sign up! All students are welcome. To contact her further, you can email [email protected]!