People of Duke Arts: Enviro-Art Gallery Creator Cameron Oglesby
In this interview with artist Cameron Oglesby (T ‘21), we learn how this environmental science major from Midlothian, Virginia, uses art to communicate her passion about environmental awareness and action. “I think that art has real potential to connect people,” says Cameron.
With her third annual Enviro-Art Gallery coming to the Rubenstein Art Center this April, Cameron Oglesby tells us how art enables her to effectively communicate her passion for the environment. As a sophomore, Cameron is a member of the duARTS board, has a close network of art friends in the Ruby, and has brought the Enviro-Art Gallery from her high school to the Duke community.
Visit the Ruby on Saturday, April 6, 12–3pm for the Enviro-Art Gallery opening reception, and hear more from Cameron at her Ruby Friday talk, “Environmental Imagery: Effective Messaging with Artistic Media,” on Friday, April 12, 12pm.
The Creative Mind Behind Duke's Enviro-Art Gallery
Annie Kornack (AK): You’re an environmental science student, but what is your background with the arts?
Cameron Oglesby (CO): My two big passions are the arts and the environment. Art was something I always enjoyed—I even took commissions and started a painted button business in high school. I decided that I didn’t want to lose art when I came to college. A lot of people study STEM and leave behind their creative outlet or ability and that was something that neither my high school art teachers nor I wanted.
AK: You came to Duke the year the Rubenstein Arts Center opened. How has that impacted your perception of the arts on campus?
CO: The Ruby highlights how important the arts are at Duke and also how important Duke is trying to make the arts on campus. I believe art can send an informative message and inspire people. Duke acknowledges the fact that people need to be engaging in the humanities and the arts in some way or form. With the creation of the Ruby, and even through our duARTS events, we’re attempting to connect the arts to a bunch of different types of disciplines and programs.
AK: I totally agree, I think the Ruby is a physical representation of the importance that we should place on the arts. What kinds of events or ideas have you brought to duARTS to engage students in the arts?
CO: I am really passionate about environmental art and engagement. I want to encourage people to both appreciate the beauty of nature and to get involved in the arts on campus.
Art is a universal language and duARTS allowed me to explore the idea of art as a language that encourages people to get involved. I brought my annual Enviro-Art Gallery to campus for the first-time last year, which was really exciting.
Enviro-Art Inspiration & Background
AK: Tell me more about the Enviro-Art Gallery—where did you come up with that idea?
CO: I created the Enviro-Art Gallery my senior year of high school in order to inform and inspire people to have a better understanding for the environment, the natural world, the natural beauty of Mother Earth.
I’ve tried to engage people in environmental issues my entire life and they haven’t really cared. I never understood that. I wanted people to understand what I was feeling about the planet.
Art allows people to feel another person’s passion and love for a topic, which a viewer might not feel on their own. By creating a gallery, I could bring in other artists and allow them to share their vision.
The Enviro-Art Gallery went super well at my high school. People told me they felt what I feel for the planet. By the end, people were telling me they truly felt what I feel for the planet, a fact which gave me the confidence to bring the gallery to Duke.
AK: How is this year’s Enviro-Art Gallery going to look compared to previous years?
CO: I wanted it to be bigger so I chose the Ruby this year. It is going to be up for the month of April. We’re going to have a guest speaker, Rebecca Vidra, a professor in the Nicholas School at the opening on April 6.
We have artwork from undergraduate students, graduate students, community members, and some pieces from elementary schoolers and middle schoolers in the community—we’re engaging the Durham community as well as Duke.
AK: I think that’s beautiful because everybody can relate through art, if you’re an artist or not an artist. Art is such a medium for influence.
CO: Exactly. People can connect to other people more than they may be able to connect to the planet, which is sad. I feel like I have this great connection to the planet but I can only express it to people through art.
“I want to encourage people to both appreciate the beauty of nature, as well as to get involved in the arts on campus. Art is a universal language.”
AK: How will you combine your artistic and environmental passions in the future?
CO: I want to invite people in a different country to share their environmental experiences through art. It’s likely going to look different, and I would love to engage in that difference.
I’m going to Madagascar to help create an environmental education program for schools there. I’ll be working with community members and kids to teach them about the importance of the environment—and there’s room for arts programming. People are very receptive to art no matter where you are, so I think that this could be a really cool program to implement down there.
I also hope that during my time abroad in Australia next semester I can connect with people artistically and maybe create some sort of Enviro-Art Gallery.
Cameron Oglesby (’21) an Environmental Science and Policy major with a focus in Ecology, minor in Earth and Ocean Sciences, and a Certificate in Civic Engagement and Social Change. She believes art can send a message and be a call-to-action, especially as it relates to the importance of environmental awareness and ecological preservation and conservation. Cameron continues her work in planetary protection as President of Duke’s Environmental Alliance, Undergraduate Liaison for the Campus Sustainability Committee, and VP External for the Undergraduate Environmental Union. She balances that with her love of the arts as Co-Vice President of Programming for duARTS.
Annie Kornack (’20) is originally from Dover, Massachusetts and has loved the arts for as long as she can remember. She is majoring in Psychology with a Markets & Management Certificate, and is also part of FORM Magazine, Arts for Life, Camp Kesem, and the Ruby’s Creative Student Arts Team. Her passion for art and using art to connect with others has led her to call the rich art-loving community of Durham her home away from home.