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From Trash to Beauty: Exhibit reveals first-year students’ projects

ImageAs part of a first-year seminar course in the department of art & design, students at Ohio Northern University were charged to invent a creative way to reuse something or invent a device or object that used waste in a meaningful way.

“Our students were engaged in a thoughtful, community-based response to sustainability and community,” said Professor Brit Rowe who taught the course. “We believe it is important to instill environmental thinking into the art and design process early on, making it an automatic consideration in the students’ career.”

Students were encouraged to investigate what local businesses throw away, what their neighbors throw away and what they throw away. The answers to these questions became the material for the students’ projects.

“Students were really encouraged to think about the entire process of creating,” said Rowe. The students’ projects were evaluated using specific criteria, such as: Is this artifact useful? How might this encourage people to use waste, to reduce waste and/or to consume less? How might the object stimulate thought, dialog and action? “We wanted students to realize that their work can be seen as a way to emphasize the value of art and design by doing something valuable for/to the community,” said Rowe.

First-year studentsStudents were able to create fun, attractive and useful objects such as a table light, a side table, and picture frames. Student reactions were very positive. “I never thought about my work in this way,” said Andrew Adams from Hudson, “until we were challenged with this project. I think we were all excited to see what each other created. People designed some clever objects.”

The project and exhibition is in recognition of the University's Year of the Polar Bear, a University initiative to raise awareness for the threats to polar bears due to climate change in the Arctic. The exhibit, called Reuse/Reduce, is on display in the Wilson Art Center through December 19, 2008 and is free and open to the public. Building hours are Mondays through Saturdays, 8a.m.–5p.m. and Sundays 1–5p.m. The Wilson Art Center is located on Gilbert Street on the Ohio Northern University campus.

The Ohio Northern department of art & design offers two major degree programs in studio arts, advertising design, graphic design, and a K-12 licensure program in art education. The department also operates the university’s gallery season, which hosts exhibits distinctly suited to an academic environment. For additional information about Ohio Northern University’s art and design program, please contact the department of art & design at 419-772-2160 or