A few months ago, the Director of Alumni Relations at Juniata College (my alma mater!) called me up to talk about what I had been doing since I abruptly fled Pennsylvania three years ago. As a school that is accustomed to producing world-class scientists, Juniata must have been a little surprised when its Environmental Science and Studies Department coughed up an artist. Anyway, they decided to write a super cool article about me! Sweet! Here’s the text and the JPEG of the article, as I’ve luckily managed to scan it before accidentally getting cooked spinach all over it :p
Having grown up in the woods of northeastern Pennsylvania, it’s no surprise that Kelly Finan ’08 came to care about the environment. She’s not the only lover of nature to find her way into the environmental science program at Juniata, but Kelly’s creativity and art history have led her on a global journey inspired by purpose and passion. As a traveling illustrator and graphic designer, Kelly endeavors to fill a specific niche: art to make the world better. Much of her work helps to deliver important information to the general public, whether it be environmental, social, or otherwise.
Q: How did you end up studying both art and science?
A: I spent a lot of summers immersed in my natural surroundings, which inspired me to study both environmental science and studio art. Nearly every one of my experiences at Juniata involved or combined scientific research or the visual arts.
Q: Which direction did you go after Juniata?
A: I knew what I wanted to do, and my art professors in my senior year were very accommodating. They allowed me to gear projects toward science illustration so my portfolio would help me get into the University of California, Santa Cruz. I completed a Master’s Certificate in Science Illustration in 2009.
Q: You don’t just travel, you seem to take up residence wherever you’re doing your work. What’s the benefit of being on site?
A: There’s something about being in the field with the researcher. It helps when a Ph.D. (researcher) is right there holding a fish and showing you the spots that make it different from a similar species.
Q: Where have you lived?
A: I’ve spent a period of weeks or months in Jekyll Island, Ga.; Ecuador; the Galapagos; Cape San Bias, Fla.; Santa Cruz, Calif.; Yosemite National Park in California; Costa Rica; and Homer, Alaska.
Q: Which of your pieces have reached the largest audience or brought you the most recognition?
A: My cover illustration for the December 2010 issue of the Journal of Environmental Biology. And, also (a commission) I did for the Baltimore Aquarium on how to install a device in crab traps that keeps turtles from getting caught. I’ve heard from several people who’ve said how helpful the illustration was, or wanting to know if they could use it in one of their publications.
Find more of Kelly’s work at http://www.kellyfinan.com.
– David Meadows ’98, director of alumni relations