Earth without Art is just Eh: Art Department to Host Earth Day Events

Abigail Blonigen

It’s safe to say Earth is important to all of us. Although no one wants to see the environment suffer, we often make unconscious choices that do just that. This is why the art department is taking a stand to spread the message this Earth Day.

Art professor Paul LaJeunesse is in charge of this program.

“What we’ve decided to focus on is single-use plastic and use that as our material for creating some art that will hopefully raise awareness about the effect of single use plastic and the quantity of single-use plastic that we are using regionally,” said LaJeunesse.

He and his Introduction to Art students worked on collecting bottle caps to make a medicine wheel project. LaJeunesse said the medicine wheel is to demonstrate how things in the world are slightly out of sync and how we can use artwork to promote healing.

The event is taking place as part of a 56 Nights event beginning at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, April 15. At the event, they will have the materials
to make the medicine wheel so everyone can join in on using “plastic as the medium and also as the message,” in LaJenuese’s words. In addition to the medicine wheel project, the A.R.T. — or Artists Really Trying — club will be hosting an upcycle pinterest party.

“The idea is to give new life to plastics that would otherwise end up in landfills or the oceans and hopefully raise awareness of the plastic problem in our world,” said Alyssa Johnson, A.R.T. club president.

The crochet club will even be involved, teaching students how to make plarn, or how to turn grocery bags into yarn to create things such as bags and sandals.

Residential Life has also chipped in for this awareness event. Ivy Smith, a residential assistant in Scanlon, said she “decided to turn my event programs for the semester based around the event on the 15th.” She had her floor collect bottle caps for the month of March, and collect paper towel and toilet paper rolls for the month of April. She also asked the Cable to donate old issues of newspapers. With these materials, she’s making a paper mache deforestation project which will also displayed outside Storm’s Den.

This event is the kick off to Earth Week. After the display is created at the 56 Nights event on April 15, it will be displayed outside Storm’s Den all week. On Wednesday, April 20, a documentary will be shown in the Science auditorium called “Racing Extinction.” Thursday, April 21, there will be musicians and tables with information from local and global sustainability organizations. Friday, April 22 is Earth Day. There will be tables and snacks in the Student Union with information, and the art display will be taken down, disassembled and recycled.

The bottle caps from the medicine wheel will be sent to a nonprofit recycling program based out of Florida called “Caps of Love.” This organization uses the funds from recycling to purchase wheelchairs for underprivileged children. According to LaJeunesse, only about 30 percent of the plastic in bottles can be recycled, so this is a great way to give back. He said this is a way to use “art as a way of communication, information, education, and also therapy.” LaJeunesse said he is hopeful this event will spark a change on campus to minimize or eliminate single use plastic.

“It takes everyone going ahead and doing something about it,” he said.