The stop-action video “Bat in Flight” not only exemplifies what individuals can accomplish through teamwork, but it also reminds us how we’re all interconnected on a global scale.
During the past academic year, almost 60 Transylvania University students scratched lines through coated paper to each create an individual frame for the flight as part of professor Zoé Strecker’s Introduction to Visual Art class. See a list of the artists and read about the connections between bats, habitat loss and COVID-19.
“An essential part of this project was raising our awareness of the interdependence between species,” Strecker said. “We are all in this together.”
In the liberal arts spirit, art students found out a few things about biology and human nature. “By learning some amazing facts about bats, they gained an appreciation for an animal that is currently being blamed and maligned, even scapegoated during this atrocious pandemic. As we disturb bat habitats (or capture and hunt them or collect their guano, etc.), they come into contact with us in ways they would not if they had sufficient space.”
Strecker also noted the interdependent — and individual — nature of the project itself. “I absolutely love the wide variety of drawing styles and the way individual artists’ personalities emerge,” she said. And on a different level, the “handmade frame animation serves to showcase collaborative community work.”
First-year student Sophie Biddle, whose contribution (pictured above) depicts the bat with outstretched wings, said in an artist’s statement that “the suffering of nature is the suffering of humanity at large. The two are allies in the same fight. In the midst of a pandemic, connections are formed and re-examined. Our project has the potential to put us in a similar mindset. In spending time with our bat creations, watching them come to life before us, we can become familiarized with the idea of a bat. We can get to know it, we can connect with it.”
Biddle said this connection is especially important to Transylvania students, considering the school’s mascot, Raf, is a Rafinesque’s big-eared bat. “In the face of environmental destruction, we can choose to break the mental divide between ourselves and nature, between ourselves and all the bats of the world.”