Honoring a colorful world through art and science

Kait Evensen stands in trees


You’ll see it in every fine detail of her technical botanical illustrations.

You’ll feel it in the line and color of her computer-generated landscapes.

You’ll hear it in the tap, tap, tap of chalk as she makes mountains rise in a mural.

She wants to combine art and natural resources to communicate science through art.

Kait Evensen is graduating in a few days, and her work is already being recognized on a national level. She came to Colorado State University from Littleton, Colo., as an art major. She added a conservation biology minor and fell in love with natural resources. She changed her major to Natural Resources Management with a minor in Ecological Restoration. Ever since, she has contributed to the Warner College of Natural Resources and its strong sense of community. She was the outreach coordinator for the Warner College Council, she worked as a botanist for the Colorado Forest Restoration Institute for three years, and she has been a part of the Rangeland Plant Identification Team.

“I haven’t ever really looked back,” she said. “I believe people, especially non-scientists, have an easier time understanding science when it is visual and then they are able to form meaningful relationships with the concepts.”

Asking the big, colorful questions

Evensen brings an artist’s eye to everything she does, and that allows her to imagine the world in its full color and potential as she thinks about the future of natural resources work. When she looks at a landscape, any landscape and even when she’s ‘not trying to do art,’ she visualizes the landscape’s pieces in their color blocks first. Her own relationship to the land is through color.

“Colors … I love all of them,” she said. “But there’s this pastelly-orange of an aspen leaf at a particular time in fall, and that would have to be my favorite.”

Evensen enjoys the challenge of raising awareness and asking important natural resources questions through art.

One of her final projects as an undergraduate student was for a public relations in natural resources class. She created a striking series of posters meant to capture the dual reality of national parks and what will happen if we neglect to take care of them. The posters are meant to elicit a sense of urgency to preserve the unique beauty of the national parks. Her professor saw the potential of her project to send a poignant message and reached out to the coordinator of the Planet Forward Conference, which was founded as a space to practice storytelling in the context of environmental issues. Evensen was invited to attend the 2018 conference in Washington D.C. with sponsorship provided by CSU’s Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources.

Her posters were recognized on stage during the last session of the conference, which was a panel including Teddy Roosevelt’s great-grandson and Dwight Eisenhower’s granddaughter. This conference experience helped Evensen affirm that her work was valuable and that she could successfully pursue a career that intentionally merges art, communications, and natural resources.

She’s busy finishing up an illustrated plant guide that will be published soon. It identifies 54 Colorado plants and she hand illustrated all of them.

“Combining visual beauty with scientific knowledge to communicate with people is what I am passionate about,” she said. “I’m really not bound by a particular medium and the colors of the world are so inspiring.”