American Mountains is a research and visual art project inspired by the 17th-century Russian predecessor to the roller coaster (referred to as "Russian Mountains"). This project investigates the roller coaster as symbol for the need for foundational structures, systems of support, and sources of uplift for those most vulnerable to homegrown American terrorism—a violence oftentimes enacted under the guise of patriotism. The student research partner and I will work alongside one another to produce a culminating multimedia visual art exhibition. The student research partner will source information regarding the history of roller coasters, elements of their design, as well as their social and cultural impact. The student will also help with conducting field research at area amusement parks from time to time. Students with interests and/or backgrounds in physics, architecture, and art—namely, kinetic sculpture and landscape painting—are preferred but all will be considered. Additional tasks may include general woodworking, lumber sculpture fabrication, and other material experiments in the studio.
Since this project pulls from the histories and methodologies of various academic and professional fields, having an extra set of hands and eyes throughout the project’s development will lend itself greatly to maintaining the interdisciplinary spirit of this type of approach.
The student will learn and refine skills pertaining to contemporary sculpture fabrication, exhibition planning/design, and the maintenance of a creative studio practice. The student will also have an opportunity to witness firsthand all aspects of a project’s development—from initial spark to execution and presentation—while developing their own penchant for self-directed study.