Connecting passions

Sophomore Nat Wood combines a love for art and the environment

Sophomore Nat Wood’s brain is divided into two spheres: art and environmental activism.

“I have a lot of different things that I’m interested in that don’t really seem to connect,” Wood said.

Wood started out experimenting with ceramics and pottery when they were 15 years old as a student at Keene High School. Over time, they’ve come to find that the motions of the pottery wheel are relaxing.

“For me, pottery is more therapeutic, I like being able to make things that people can use, that to me is a very rewarding thing,” Wood said.

Senior Riley Young, who works with Wood frequently in the on-campus ceramics studio, said Wood is a good collaborator in the process of creating pottery. “They’re always willing to help, we’re usually on either side of the aisle. It’s just nice to have someone to bounce your ideas off of,” Young said.

Outside of the ceramics studio, Wood also creates art using just paper and a pen. “I love drawing, it’s one of my favorite mediums. It’s very accessible. All you need is paper and a pencil,” Wood said.

For the past year, Wood has been selling t-shirts with their drawings on it to raise money for top surgery. “I first started doing it to actually help pay for top surgery. It was one of my first fundraisers for that which was almost a year ago exactly,” Wood said.

Currently, Wood has crewneck sweatshirts available for pre-order with their artwork displayed on the front.

However, Wood expressed a complicated relationship with selling their art as a means of making money. “I have a weird relationship with selling my art,” Wood said. “For me, it changes my relationship with my art a little bit, and it makes it feel more commercialized and I don’t like that. I want it to be more of a personal experience and something I share with others.”

Occupying the second portion of Wood’s brain is a passion for the environment. Even outside their studies in the classroom, Wood is involved with climate change prevention efforts in the Keene community.

Sabine Maloney, who went to high school with Wood, described them as resilient, specifically in their environmental protection efforts. “I feel like they’re someone who always sticks to their core of what they believe in and really tries to make a difference in that way and makes sure that people are being inclusive and being kind,” Maloney said.

Maloney, as an employee for the New Hampshire Youth Movement, also works alongside Wood when it comes to environmental activism.” Right now, we’re starting to work on climate work and Nat has brought a bunch of amazing ideas to the table,” Maloney said. “They’re definitely very passionate about environmental change, they’re a really awesome person to be working with on that stuff.”

Most recently, Wood spoke at the Women’s March that took place in downtown Keene on October 2. In doing so, Wood hoped to bring about more inclusion of trans people in the conversation regarding reproductive rights.

“As a trans person who is in a political sphere, you tend to be one of the only voices for that community,” Wood said. “So if someone wants you to speak on behalf of your community, you’re one of the only people who can do it.”

Young described Wood as tenacious, impressed by their ability to do art and environmental work simultaneously. “They are so involved in so many things and they do it all so well, and I’m so impressed by them, especially [because] they’re active in the community and on campus doing stuff for the climate… but they’re also in here doing clay. So they just do so much and do it all really well.”

Studying both environmental science and art at Keene State, Wood tries to find a space to connect their passion for art and the environment.

“Art and the environment go hand-in-hand for me, because a lot of my art is very centric to the environment, whether it be clay, which literally comes from the ground,” Wood said. “My love for nature is reflected in my art and it’s reflected in my love for making sure that the planet can actually hold on with our human interaction.”

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