The Office of Sustainability Artist-in-Residence Program is a collaboration between the Office of Sustainability, the Lamar Dodd School of Art, and Ideas for Creative Exploration (ICE), an interdisciplinary initiative for the arts at UGA. In this position, an artist is paired with an operational program or problem to come up with creative solutions to societal needs. For more information about how to apply, visit


2017 Kira Hegeman

Kira Hegeman is a doctoral student in Art Education with a focus on arts-based research, informal sites of learning, and socially-engaged art. Kira came to Art Education on a non-traditional path. Central to her life and career aspirations was exploring the world and learning about its many cultures. Upon completion of her undergraduate studies in comparative religion and Russian at the University of Vermont, Kira moved to Thailand, where she lived for almost five years.

While in Thailand, Hegeman cemented her interests in both education and the arts. She worked as a facilitator of experiential education programs for visiting school groups from around the world—a position that not only allowed her to travel the country, but to also witness the benefits of hands-on and multidisciplinary education. Hegeman also served as the Art Director for Art Relief International, a Thailand-based organization devoted to empowerment and community-building through the arts.

Hegeman’s studies at the University of Georgia focus on studio practice, arts-based research, alternative arts education, and community development, with a central focus on public art and pedagogy.  Continually inspired by the power of creative expression to promote communication, confidence, and group cohesion, Kira’s research interests include the role of interactivity, public space, and collaborative art making in fostering conversation across diverse social lines. Kira works as both an artist and educator, striving to create visual works that invite participants to collaborate in the art making process through storytelling, public workshops, or interactive elements.

In addition to scholarly pursuits, Hegeman has received grants to support community-based art projects. Most recently, she collaborated with a fellow art educator to develop a participatory installation for Art on the Atlanta Beltline, a temporary Public Art Festival held annually on the Atlanta Beltline. The project invited members of the Atlanta community to participate in free ceramics workshops in a public park. The pieces they built in the workshop were then fired and installed collectively on the Beltline, playfully immersed in nooks and crannies of the Interim Eastside Trail, inviting participants to discover their work in a new environment and share in a collective installation. Additionally, she received a Willson Center for Humanities and Arts grant to complete a kinetic, interactive installation of moveable sculptures, and an Athens Cultural Affairs Commission Grant to build a community clay oven with the Pinewoods Mobile Home Community in Athens, GA, in collaboration with Chris McDowell. Kira is also excited to have had her design chosen as one of the 18 holes at Can Can Wonderland, a permanent art miniature golf course in St.Paul, Minnesota.

The Athens Home for Discarded Objects invites people to take a second look at objects that have been left behind outside in our environment. This two-part installation in the UGA Science Library features objects that were found as part of a highway and stream cleanup of Barnett Shoals Road in Athens and Tanyard Creek on the UGA campus. Participants are invited to “adopt” an object by filling out a birth certificate and imagining a story, name, and date of birth. The installation features some of the objects and their stories from the adoption event held during Sustainable UGA’s Zero Waste Extravaganza in February 2017, displayed with original prints by Abigail West and a handmade book by Kira Hegeman. 

Kira Hegeman and Abigail West are both students in the Lamar Dodd School of Art and interns in the UGA Office of Sustainability. They hope to encourage people to think about the full life cycles of the objects we use and so often quickly forget about, with the goal of promoting mindfulness and reuse in a culture of consumption and consumerism.