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NCHS Sociology Responds to The Canary in the Lake

Thursday, June 10th
9:30 am - 5:00 pm

Event Description

Image: Peyton Carlock, Tornado Statistics: IL, 2021. SolarFast and mixed media on posterboard. Courtesy of the artist.

University Galleries of Illinois State University is pleased to present NCHS Sociology Responds to The Canary in the Lake from June 1 through July 25, 2021. In accordance with public health guidance, attendance at University Galleries will be kept under 25 at all times and visitors must book an appointment. Please see additional information below.
Organized collaboratively by University Galleries and Normal Community High School (NCHS), this exhibition presents artworks created by more than 50 high school sociology students in conjunction with Alice Hargrave: The Canary in the Lake, an exhibition that was on view at University Galleries from March 4 through May 16, 2021. The project team includes Stefen Robinson (sociology and history teacher, NCHS), and the following University Galleries staff members: Kendra Paitz (director and chief curator); Tanya Scott (curator of education); Aaron Caldwell (graduate assistant); and Ari Garcia (gallery assistant).

For The Canary in the Lake, Chicago-based artist Alice Hargrave addressed climate change-related loss of biodiversity and habitats, focusing particularly on birds and lakes. Her exhibition—which included photography, installation, video, audio, and sculpture—premiered The Conference of the Lakes, After Farid Attar, Hargrave’s collaboration with Dr. Catherine O’Reilly, professor of geology at Illinois State University. Hargrave and O’Reilly worked together to collect and revisualize climate-related data from freshwater lakes on all seven continents. Hargrave utilized these data to generate new patterns, which she combined with photographs, references to lake lore, and the surprisingly vast array of lake colors to create 20 self-described “lake portraits.”

Stefen Robinson, Tanya Scott, and Kendra Paitz developed a two-month project centered on Hargrave’s processes and themes. University Galleries staff members met virtually with Robinson’s sociology classes four times to conduct tours of Hargrave’s exhibition, discuss how to research environmental issues, demonstrate ways to find data, teach art-making workshops, brainstorm about students’ projects, discuss how exhibitions are created, and offer professional development about museum careers. Robinson mentored students as they analyzed their selected environmental issues through sociological lenses. Like Hargrave, the students conducted research and incorporated relevant data into their own artworks. University Galleries provided materials kits for the students—including dyes that develop color when exposed to sunlight, natural fabrics, transparency sheets, permanent markers, and safety goggles. The resulting exhibition features the students’ artworks and written project statements.

NCHS Sociology Responds to The Canary in the Lake is supported by the Town of Normal Harmon Arts Grant Program and the Illinois Arts Council Agency.


  • Monday-Thursday: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Friday: 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m.
  • Saturday/Sunday: 12-4 p.m.
If you will need special accommodations, please contact the event organizer.


University Galleries
(309) 438-5487


University Galleries
11 Uptown Circle #103
Normal, IL
(309) 438-5487