Brian Collier Associate Professor of Fine Arts: Art & Design



B.F.A. Suny at Buffalo
M.F.A., University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Areas of Expertise:

Sculpture/3D/Site-Specific Art, Digital Imaging, Fine Woodworking and Furniture Design, Ecological Art, Digital Video and Interdisciplinary Art. I am particularly interested in research-based artworks that traverse traditional disciplinary boundaries while retaining a strong connection to foundational fine art production.

Courses I Teach:

Digital Imaging
Sculpture: Subject and Object
Sculpture: Site and Installation
Art & Ecology
Fine Woodworking Design and Construction
Digital Video Art
Junior Studio
Senior Studio

My Saint Michael’s:

As an interdisciplinary artist with a background in sculpture, furniture design and fine woodworking I am committed to teaching our students how to develop strong technical skills, be highly experimental and explore the many ways visual art intersects with other disciplines. Objects, images and designs produced by artists are found everywhere, not just in galleries and museums. Artists have a unique perspective into the complex visual and spatial environments we live and work in because we don’t just analyze them, we produce them. Teaching students at a Liberal Arts College provides amazing opportunities to further the understanding of how art and design intersect with, and contribute to, culture and society. I am also able to connect our students to professional artists in my role as curator of the McCarthy Art Gallery.

My artist website:


Brian Collier’s interdisciplinary projects range across a wide variety of media, including websites, video, sculpture, photography, drawing, artist’s books, installation and performance. Through this diverse practice he focuses on ways in which elements of the non-human natural world exist, or have reinserted themselves, in severely human-altered habitats. Through his projects, he disseminates information about these sites, often proposing strategies to re-evaluate the weedy margins of the human-dominated landscape. He is Founder and President of The Society for a Re-Natural Environment and Taxonomic Architect/Head Archivist of The Collier Classification System for Very Small Objects Master Collection.

Collier’s work has appeared widely in solo and group exhibitions in the US and abroad. A partial list of venues include: Fleming Museum of Art, Burlington, VT; Power Plant Gallery at Duke University; BCA Center, Burlington, VT; Deutsche Bank’s 60 Wall Gallery in NY; Neues Museum Weserberg Bremen, in Bremen, Germany; Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Boulder, CO; Rowland Contemporary, Chicago, IL; University of Houston, TX; Museum of Natural History, University of Colorado Boulder; Contemporary Art Center, North Adams, MA; University of Southern Oregon; Centro de Desarrollo de las Artes Visuales, Havana, Cuba; CEPA Gallery, Buffalo, NY; and Galería Raúl Martínez, Havana, Cuba. He has received grants from the Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City, Illinois Arts Council, New York Foundation for the Arts, and the City of Bloomington Cultural District Commission.

Reviews and articles about Collier’s work have appeared in a variety of publications, among them Art in America, The New York Times, Afterimage, Art New England, Art Papers Magazine, Domus, The Chicago Reader, Orion: Nature/ Culture/ Place, Buffalo News and The Burlington Free Press. His work is also included in the books: Art & Ecology Now from Thames & Hudson Press, The Object from MIT/Whitechapel Press, Weather Report: Art & Climate Change edited by Lucy Lippard, Displaying Death and Animating Life: Human-Animal Relations in Art, Science and Everyday Life by Jane Desmond and Say It Isn’t So: Art Trains its Sights on the Natural Sciences (Weserberg: Museum für moderne Kunst).

Collier earned his MFA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his BFA from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Collier was born in Bay Shore, NY in 1970. He is currently an Associate Professor of Art at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont.

Awards & Recognition

Exhibition of “The Traveling Museum of Very Small Objects” at the Fleming Museum of Art, Burlington, VT
Exhibition of “Unlawning America” at BCA Center, Burlington, VT
My work included in the book “Art & Ecology Now” by Andrew Brown, Thames and Hudson Press
My work included in the book “The Object” by MIT Press
Artist Profile in Art New England
Visiting Artist at Vermont Studio Center
Exhibition and Programming Committee Member, Burlington City Arts


For over 25 years I have been creating interdisciplinary projects that investigate the influence of humans on other species and our impact on the places we live. I am most interested in the contrast between our culturally generated understanding of the natural world and actual everyday experiences with plants and other-than-human animals. I make work to provide opportunities for people to have a deeper level of engagement with these other species. Art can increase awareness of the innumerable ways we influence and interact with them. My goal is to reframe what we conventionally call “nature” and remove artificial separations between humans and the other species we live with.

Recent News

Brian Collier, associate professor of art & design, did a live interview on June 12, 2020 about his “unlawning” project for the Center for Research on Vermont, which was recorded and was viewable online. Brian’s in the past year included in an online exhibition, “ExtraNatural – Outside the Operation of Natural Laws” curated by Ginger Gregg Duggan and Judy Hoos Fox, with content available online through August 31, 2020 on the website Virtual Views. Brian also was Featured Artist at ecoartspace recently. Ecoartspace has served as a platform for artists addressing environmental issues since 1999 and the creators have curated over 60 art and ecology exhibitions as well as organizing and participating in ecoart programs and events.
(posted February 2021)

Brian Collier, professor of fine arts/art, in February at Burlington’s Fleming Museum on the University of Vermont campus was part of a major art exhibit that prominently included his work. Later this spring, Brian gave a public talk about his project at the Fleming in April and the show was on view until May 10. The show was called Small Worlds, and explored “the ways contemporary artists use miniatures to inspire awe, whimsy, and even dread. These artists either create or employ found miniature figures, rooms, and landscapes, displaying them through photographs or sculptures. The resulting scenes, reminiscent of our childhood play-things, can recall in us that sense of wonder for the world around us, but also call our attention to the dark forces hidden beneath the seduction of the small. As our inherent attraction to the miniature draws us into the imagined world of the artist, real-world traumas such as violence, displacement, and environmental disaster are brought to our attention in intricate and intimate ways.” Brian developed The Collier Classification System for Very Small Objects, a taxonomy used to name any solid, non-living thing smaller than 8mm x 8mm x 25mm. Visitors were able to peruse The Traveling Museum of Very Small Objects and make their own contributions to the collection.
(posted June 2019)

Brian Collier, associate professor of fine arts/art, will be exhibiting “The Traveling Museum of Very Small Objects at the Fleming Museum in February 2019. This is a new, updated and expanded version of this ongoing project which Brian completed while on sabbatical last year. Brian also was appointed to the Burlington City Arts Exhibition Programming Committee last year, and is a member of the steering committee for the Vermont Master Naturalist Program in Hinesburg. An article he wrote about his Unlawning America project was published in the City of Burlington conservation newsletter. A video of an interview of Brian talking about his Unlawning America project was produced for “Stories of Vermont” by Richard Watts of the Vermont Research Center; and, he negotiated for his Unlawning America installation sites to be kept active for the foreseeable future at Shelburne Farms. Also in the past year, he co-organized and curated an exhibition of Lionel Delevinge’s work in the McCarthy Art Gallery. In May 2018, he taught a woodworking class at the Generator Makerspace in Burlington; in October 2018 he curated a Video Art Exhibition for Cohen Hall, the new integrated Arts building at the University of Vermont. Brian also has been invited to be a Visiting Artist at Vermont Studio Center and will be giving a public lecture and doing studio visits with the artist residents.Here is a link:
(posted January 2019)

Brian Collier, assistant professor of fine arts/art, this spring wrote an article about his new project for the BTV Conservation Newsletter. The piece, headlined “Unlawning America: A call to Inaction,” posted on the newsletter blog May 1, expounds on his earlier work — in October 2017 Brian launched a new art and ecology project titled “Unlawning America” at Burlington City Arts and Shelburne Farms. The project is designed to encourage anyone who owns or manages greenspace to combat some of our environmental problems with a simple strategy: “Don’t mow lawns that aren’t used for recreation space. Through intentional inaction, we can have a tangible, and highly visible, positive environmental impact.”
(posted June 2018)

Brian Collier, associate professor of art and an ecological artist, in November was an invited panelist at Burlington City Arts on the Church Street Marketplace. The panel discussion that Brian joined followed the screening of a free short film titled A Drop of Life: Water Quality and the Environment, sponsored by the American Society of Landscape Architects—Vermont Chapter, Doug Crowell Lecture Series. The entire event was a chance for discussion about opportunities to collaborate on Vermont’s requirement to address the water quality of Lake Champlain and other water bodies around the state. The film is a story about two women, a village teacher in rural India and an African American corporate executive, whose disparate lives intersect when they are both confronted with lack of access to clean drinking water. Panelists joining Brian were Eric Roy, assistant professor, Nutrient Cycling & Ecological Design Lab, University of Vermont; Becky Tharp, water quality manager, Watershed Consulting Associates, LLC; Perry Thomas, lakes and ponds program manager, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation; and moderator Adam Portz, landscape architect, SE Group. Brian also was offering a public lecture at Burlington City Arts on November 30 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., talking about his new project “Unlawning America.” (on October 25 at Shelburne Farms, Brian presented “Unlawning America: A Call to Inaction.” His project demonstrates the positive environmental impact on water, soil, and wildlife when lawns are allowed to grow with little or no maintenance. It ran through the end of October there). Brian and Kristin Dykstra, also of the Saint Michael’s faculty, organized one of the semester’s major art events, the exhibition “El Yuma — Contemporary Cuban Art,” with a well-attended lecture/opening reception on campus on October 19 in the McCarthy Gallery. This exhibition was to be in the McCarthy Arts Center Art Gallery through December 15. Curated by Sachie Hernandez and A.D. Guerra, this is an exhibition by contemporary Cuban artists examining images, histories and fantasies about the United States. “El Yuma” is a term used in Cuba to describe foreigners, especially Americans, and sometimes it refers to the United States itself. Hernandez spoke in a Cheray lecture hall about the exhibition before the McCarthy opening reception, highlighting her desire for visual art to be part of “a more transparent, dynamic and respectful exchange between the peoples of Cuba and the United States.” Both events were funded by The Marc and Dana vanderHeyden Endowment in the Fine Arts. The Burlington weekly paper Seven Days this week had a substantial review of both shows with ample mention of Brian’s work.
(posted December 2017)

Brian Collier associate professor of fine arts/art, was invited to be the Visiting Artist at Vermont Studio Center’s for Vermont Artist Week in recent months. Brian gave an artist talk and doing studio visits with the artist residents. The Vermont Studio Center’s website gave details: “Artist, educator and re-naturalist Brian D Collier’s interdisciplinary projects manifest as sanctioned and unsanctioned public projects, exhibitions and multi-media presentations. He has exhibited widely in the U.S. and abroad. Collier is an Associate Professor of Art at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, VT where he teaches sculpture, digital art and ecological art.”
(posted June 2017)

Brian Collier, associate professor of art, this fall was showing work at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Art-Science Gallery in Boulder. CO. The group exhibition features a series of projects Brian has done in Boulder over the years and is part of the History of Art in Boulder, CO Project. The show runs from Sept. 29, 2016 – Jan. 6, 2017.
(posted November 2016)

Brian Collier, associate professor of art, whose work was at the Shelburne Museum recently as part of the “Eyes on the Land” exhibition, was mentioned in a review of the exhibition in Seven Days, and he and his project were the exclusive focus of an article “Wisdom found Staring at Pine Island Goats,” by Jess Wisloski the Essex Reporter. He also presented work at Pecha Kucha night on Nov. 12 at the Shelburne Museum.
(posted January 2016)

Brian D Collier, associate professor of art, will be part of a panel discussion, “The Working Land,” at Shelburne Museum, Pizzigalli Center for Art & Education, on Oct. 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The discussion will be an exploration of our historical, artistic, literary and personal relationships to place — in conjunction with the special exhibition Eyes on the Land, developed in collaboration with the Vermont Land Trust. Noted scholars participating in the day’s discussions and gallery tour include: Dona Brown, Professor of History, University of Vermont; John Elder, Professor Emeritus, Middlebury College; Robert Thorson, Professor of Geology, University of Connecticut. Along with Brian, who is an artist, educator and re-naturalist whose projects manifest as public art works, exhibitions and multi-media presentations, other artist-panelists will be Cameron Davis (teaches painting, drawing, perspectives on making, and transdisciplinary courses on art, ecology, and community at the University of Vermont); Gowri Savoor (creates emotive environmental sculpture and works on paper); and Susan Abbott (whose oil and watercolor paintings examine the specifics and mood of place, especially the New England working landscape).(posted September 2015)

Brian Collier, assistant professor of fine arts/art, had artwork exhibited in a show titled “Picture Books” at the Power Plant Gallery at Duke University from Sept. 9 – Nov 7, 2014.
(posted December 2014)

Brian Collier, assistant professor of art, had writing from his project “The Collier Classification System for Very Small Objects” included in The Object, a new book from MIT Press in the Whitechapel: Documents of Contemporary Art series. The book was edited by Anthony Hudek and the publication date was February 7, 2014. Brian also had images and text from his project “The Highway Expedition” included in Art and Ecology Now, a major new survey from Thames and Hudson Press. The book was edited by Andrew Brown and publication date was May 20, 2014. Brian also has been invited to create new work for an exhibition at the Shelburne Museum’s new Pizzagalli Center for Art and Education. The exhibition is tentatively titled “Eyes On The Land” and is a collaboration between the Vermont Land Trust and the Shelburne Museum. Brian is creating his art work based on a year-long investigation of the Pine Island Farm in Colchester, VT which houses the Vermont Goat Collaborative alongside ecological restoration activities in the Intervale. The exhibition is scheduled for summer 2015.
(posted August 2014)

Brian Collier, assistant professor of art, had his work was featured in the exhibition, “Curios & Cuiosities: Interpreting the Natural & Cultural Worlds” at the Bush Barn Art Center in Salem, Oregon, from January 17 to February 22 of 2014. Also, Brian is the cover artist and has a text and image piece published in Mandorla: New Writing from the Americas, #16. And, his work is included in the forthcoming book (March 2014), The Object from MIT Press:
Brian’s work also is included in the forthcoming book (May-June 2014), Art & Ecology Now from Thames and Hudson Publishers. (March 2014)

Brian Collier, assistant professor of fine arts/art, and his project “Roadkill Shrines” has been written about in a new book by Jane Desmond from the Routledge Studies in Anthropology series (Routledge Press), titled Environmental Anthropology: Future Directions, published on June 4, 2013. The author’s writing about Brian’s work appears on pp. 50-53 and includes one of his photographs from that project. Also, Brian was featured artist for a September show by Burlington City Arts (BCA), a high-profile show for the region and state. The first event for the statewide, multi-faced show was September 6, with BCA opening reception to be held September 27. The show is curated by DJ Hellerman, a new art instructor for Saint Michael’s.

Brian Collier, assistant professor of art, currently has an exhibit showing at Friends Academy in Locust Valley, NY. His exhibition “Very Small Objects/ Selective Unveiling” runs through April 13, and the opening reception was February 8. Brian’s work at Friends Academy was being shown in conjunction with that of Elrie Joubert, the 2010 winner of South Africa’s most prestigious art competition, The Absa L’Atelier, which rewards young artists between the ages of 21 and 35 to develop their talents abroad. On April 5, an exhibit opened at New City Galerie on Church Street in Burlington titled “Ecologies,” with Brian the featured artist for the Downtown section of Art Map Burlington.

Brian Collier, assistant professor of fine arts/art, was invited as a presenter for Pechkucha Night (PKN) at the Fleming Museum of Art in Burlington on September 13, 2012. PKN is a worldwide phenomenon that began in 2003 in Tokyo and now is held in more than 550 cities around the globe. It offers the opportunity for a broad range of participants to present their designs, projects, thoughts, and ideas at a fun, informal, and fast-paced gathering. Brian was one of 10 presenters at the Fleming PKN. He talked about programs and projects he has been part of as founder and president of the Society for a Re-Natural Environment.

Artist/assistant professor, Brian Collier, who has created art installations at venues in museums, libraries and big box stores around the world, is installing his participatory exhibition, “The Collier Classification System for Very Small Objects,” subtitled, A New Taxonomy and Catalogued Collection, in Durick Library, April 27 to October 15.

Professor Collier will give an artist’s talk about the exhibit, titled, “Locating, Naming and Displaying Very Small Objects,” on Friday, April 27, at 4:30 p.m. in the Durick Library, Room 115. An opening reception for the show will be held on April 27 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Durick Library Room 115.

The Collier Classification System, invented by Brian Collier, provides tools “to intimately explore and apply order to the micro-detritus of an intimate landscape.” The artist has provided a fascinating array of objects and explanations of how to participate in the collection process at his remarkable website:

Public invited to explore “the very small”
“Our intimate daily landscape is filled with a vast universe of disorganized, unnamed and often overlooked very small objects,” Professor Collier wrote. “Hidden within this chaotic muddle are objects of wonder and beauty that, when noticed, can deepen our experience of the spaces we inhabit.” The professor was thus inspired in 2004 to invent The Collier Classification System for Very Small Objects.

Definition of “the very small”
Professor Collier has used his system to create a Master Collection which has been exhibited nationally and internationally. He invites the public to enter the exploration for understanding “the world of the very small” by visiting the exhibit and by using the Collier System to collect and name Very Small Objects. Professor Collier defines a very small object as “any once living or never living thing big enough to be seen by the naked eye but no larger than 8mm x 8mm x 20mm. No living thing may ever be collected or named using this classification system except when the specimen is a small part or fragment that may be collected using a method that causes no significant harm to the larger organism.”