Growing up, Sydney Nesbit always wanted to be an architect. Or maybe a scientist. Or, both.
When she arrived at the University of New Mexico, Nesbit decided on a degree in biology with a minor in honors interdisciplinary arts, but she wanted to ensure she had opportunities to get creative during her undergraduate studies. Nesbit decided she would use her Honors College experience to incorporate more creative and liberal arts coursework into her STEM-focused education.
Through Honors, she studied photography, serial killers and romance novels. Each week left her with open-ended questions to answer and imaginative prompts to work through. She’d never had so much fun writing essays, she said.
“It was so nice, every single week, to have something artistic to think about while I was studying for Chem exams and stuff like that,” Nesbit said. “I felt like Honors was a great way to have that balance without feeling like I was juggling too much.”
In Installation Art taught by Megan Jacobs, Nesbit was prompted to create the short film Signal Lost, now featured in the Adobe Creative Campus in Zimmerman Library. In the roughly one-minute stop motion film, a humanesque figure with an old-school television for a head sits in front of a screen before unplugging and making its way into the outdoors. Nesbit made the film during the thick of pandemic shutdowns when most people were stuck inside.
“We were tasked with making a discussion about our relationship with technology,” Nesbit said. “I really liked the idea of creating a character inherently tied to technology trying to get out of this world that is way too technological.” She spent hours animating the figures and drawing the natural backgrounds.
While Nesbit hadn’t tried stop-motion before the project, the themes didn’t stray far from her career interests. Now a graduate student in UNM’s Track 3 Architecture Program, she hopes to use her biology degree to help incorporate nature into the built environment at places like research facilities, museums or aquariums.
“Architecture has a really interdisciplinary quality in the first place. It feels like this really tangible way to have an environmental impact,” she said. “It’s kind of interesting that you can create an area where people talk about important things, where you can foster education or scientific discovery. I like the idea of using artistic approaches to look at biology and looking into how to bring biology into architecture.”
Nesbit also worked with Jacobs and a group of peers to explore the centennial anniversary of women’s suffrage in a national photography project. The culminating images are a series titled Equality Then & Now, featured in A Yellow Rose Project.
Open-ended assignments gave Nesbit the opportunity to think outside the box. By the time she graduated last Spring, she had built a creative portfolio through her honors minor that she used to apply to the Track 3 Architecture Program at UNM. More than two semesters into the graduate program, Nesbit continues to embrace an interdisciplinary approach to her study.
“Looking at things from an honors, biology, and architecture perspective has helped me come up with different ideas and have a little more creativity than if I otherwise may have,” she said.