Paper or plastic Westside campus showcases recycled art

By Nick Stern, Senior Reporter | Photos by Lea Anderson

Art Practices I uses paper and plastic bags to create original pieces of art.
Art Practices I uses paper and plastic bags to create original
pieces of art.
Art Practices I uses paper and plastic bags to create original pieces of art.
Art Practices I uses paper and plastic bags to create original
pieces of art.

Since March 1, the Westside campus has become the home of a number of collaborative art projects that have raised the standard of art and thoughts toward an improved world in different ways, Art Instructor, Lea Anderson said.

These different projects that are spread throughout the campus, from WS I to the Connect Center in the Michael J. Glennon building, proves how a multitude of different positive ideas can be conveyed through art like the importance of sustainability, community collaboration, and even the variety of communication through art in general, just to name a few, she said.

“Its purpose is to raise the bar when it comes to possibilities of what art can communicate to the public,” Anderson said.

Reference Librarian, Mary Bates-Ulibarri said that another big project that helped raise sustainability awareness and showed the importance of a collaborative community was the Bottlefall project in the WS I building.

The project was designed for community participation and used recycled beverage containers, which were strung together and hung by a window to catch light, she said.

The project is open to anyone who wants to contribute to its growth and will constantly be expanding until the end of the semester, she said.

“My hope is that a lot of people will participate and we will get a kind of mass effect. The concept is to redeem these materials that we are throwing in the trash, transform them and turn them into something beautiful and eye-catching that people will look at and realize there is more to recycling than just not putting something in the trash,” Bates-Ulibarri said.

Anderson said one of the assignments in her Art Practices I class that students worked on, which is in MJG Connect Center, is called the Color Installation.

The piece was made with recycled materials that each student was required to save up including junk mail, cereal boxes and cardboard, she said.

Leftover acrylic paint was even used on the project which was just another example of the collaborative effort towards a less wasteful community, she said.

The piece became a giant blanket and connected tapestry, which combined many different elements and messages from the artists that worked on it and the viewers who have walked through the building, Anderson said.

“It is an interconnected, unique piece and can symbolize a lot of things about our culture, people in the project, and how we have to become an interconnected com­munity in order to make improvements. So there are a lot of ways to look at the piece,” she said.

Her students were also tasked with creating any kind of art they wanted, just as long as it was out of paper bags, plastic bags or both, she said.

The kicker was that each individual was instructed to research the history of their chosen material and how the bags are made, what cultural associations are tied to the bags, and what impact these bags have on the environment, she said.

The students took the project very seriously and through their research, many of them came to realize just how much waste is really involved with something that American society has used constantly, Anderson said.

“Once you start researching bags, you cannot help but be aware of how much production there is and how much waste there is,” she said.

Anderson said that the projects worked off of and reflected the shift that has happened among much of the art seen in current society, which has been to try and apply artistic ideas to sustainability, she said.

She said that she has noticed how people have popularized the use of recycled material in their art, in such a way that draws attention to the impact of waste on the environment, and what can be done to try to slow down that waste, she said.

“That’s the point of the project: to be conscious of what materials we are using, how we are using those materials, and talking about ideas and environmental issues by using materials related to those issues. So not making a painting of a trash dump, but actually using the trash to make a piece of art,” Anderson said.

Anderson said that her efforts in this project were initially to connect to the school-wide Recyclemania project, which has increased her per­sonal awareness and even helped her increase how much she has recycled.

Bates-Ulibarri said the Bottlefall project conveys an idea that each and every person is part of a larger picture in the same sense that every bottle that is recycled can contribute to a larger cause and improve sustainability.

No one who participated was told what to do or how it should be done or even pressured into participat­ing, which is an important part of the bigger picture being conveyed by the project, Bates-Ulibarri said.

“No one is forced to participate, but they have and it creates an oppor­tunity for volunteering, inspiration, and for just seeing things a little differ­ently. If it were not for little contribu­tions of individuals, then there would be nothing,” she said.

Bates-Ulibarri wanted everybody to know that the project is open to everyone, because when more people participate, the more successful the project completion will be, she said.

For more information or to par­ticipate in the Bottlefall project, contact Ulibarri at


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