Ecological Art Student Morgan Hooks Aspires to Change How Others See the World
Art & ecology might not be the most expected combination of programs, but the two disciplines are more related than you might think. They both have the power to change how you see the world around you. Grace College’s eco-art major combines visual art with environmental awareness.
“What is important for students to know is how they can integrate God’s grand design into their visual focus,” said Kim M. Reiff, chair of the Department of Visual, Performing and Media Arts. “Eco-art is how artists think of their art in terms of interpreting their environment, which ultimately is how we interpret our relationships with each other.”
Ecological art student Morgan Hooks, from Warsaw, Indiana, will be one of the first graduates of the major. During her recent photography internship for the trauma catalog at Zimmer Biomet, she learned about the possible ways to use her major to impact those around her.
Hooks started at Grace College in 2019 studying health science with a minor in photography. She dropped out to work at a factory and really enjoyed the work, but she knew it wasn’t something she would want to do long-term. A friend from Grace told her about the ecological art major, saying it would be perfect for Hooks.
“Everything that I’m really passionate about is what the eco-art major is, photography and the environment,” Hooks said. “I’ve always wanted to combine science and art.”
After returning to Grace, she heard about an internship opportunity with Zimmer Biomet. Amy Hook, Zimmer Biomet’s in-house photographer, had reached out to Reiff and Professor Aaron Winey, director of the Media Arts Program, to see if there were any students interested in editing photos for the trauma catalog. They recommended Hooks.
During her internship, Hooks enjoyed the hands-on application of her photography skills. “It encouraged me to think of ways you can use art in places that you wouldn’t normally think of,” she said.
Hooks had many opportunities to explore new interests, even those out of her field. She had the chance to help a video crew as they made instructional videos for medical students, and she watched them do live surgeries on cadavers and even got to help take x-rays. Another week, she went on a trip to New York and New Jersey, where she helped organize implants and had free time to explore New York City.
“They made it clear from the beginning that they wanted me to get as much as I could out of the internship, even if there were things I wanted to do unrelated to photography,” Hooks said. “Everyone I worked with was really invested in giving young people tools that will benefit them anywhere, not just at Zimmer Biomet.”
“I believe real, first-hand job experience is a huge learning tool,” said Hooks’ supervisor, Amy Hook, who also happens to be a Grace graduate. “The opportunities Morgan had outside of her main project are particularly helpful as she was able to see how the company functions in some of the other areas.”
Hooks will be staying part time at Zimmer Biomet through May. She is working for the creative department and has branched into graphic design work in addition to photography. She enjoys practicing multiple artistic mediums to get the intended message across.
“I am grateful for Morgan’s help,” Amy Hook said. “It has been an opportunity for us both, not only for her to learn real-life job experience, but it has been wonderful for me to get much needed help and to have the opportunity to teach a college student.”
As she progresses in the ecological art program, Hooks has been able to learn how she can combine art & ecology into a career. With an eco-art degree, there is a whole spectrum of jobs combining the two. Hooks isn’t sure how she wants to use her degree, but she knows one thing, for certain: she wants to impact the way people see the world.
“As a creative artist, the experience she is gaining from working in a collaborative setting is extremely valuable,” Reiff said. “She will advance her knowledge of our ecosystems as she pursues additional environmental courses, and her current role will set her up for success.”
Do you want to learn more about how you can combine art & ecology? Check out environmental artist Leslie Sobel’s art exhibition which was recently displayed at Grace College.