Johnny Plastini, Assistant Professor of Printmaking, has been awarded a School of Global Environmental Sustainability Research Fellowship for the 2020-2021 academic year. SoGES funds innovative and interdisciplinary sustainability research that addresses grand challenges, involving faculty members and researchers from across five colleges this year. The awards are intended to encourage interdisciplinary understanding of complex global sustainability issues, foster collaborative cross-campus partnerships, and support sustainability research at CSU.

Plastini’s project will employ visual communication strategies that poetically and effectively convey the reality of our current climate crisis through artistic activity and creative research. Using photo-documentation, he will capture biological indicators of pollution and climate change across the Western United States. He will focus on different lichen species such as Ramalina Menziesii, a lace lichen along the Northern California Coast, and Caloplaca Candelariella, a common crustose lichen along the Colorado Front Range and Alpine Tundra Ecosystems.

“Lichens represent a particularly potent metaphor to consider because they are a composite organism of fungi, algae, and/or cyanobacteria, which form a symbiotic relationship,” says Plastini, “They offer a seemingly simple, yet complex example of how human communities could evolve into a more mutually beneficial state, apart from hierarchical exploitation strategies inherent to late-stage capitalism.”

The documentary project will be printed on handmade recycled papers via photo-lithographic and post-digital technologies that focus on sustainable printmaking processes. The entire finished series of 100-200 prints will be exhibited during May 2021 in Fort Collins, Colorado. This fellowship aims to solidify a meaningful project within the local and regional community, then apply a similar research model with opportunity for growth at future residencies/fellowships in various international locations.