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

Reduce/Reuse PosterAs 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.

Students were able to create fun, attractive and useful objects such as a clock, desk organizers and journals.

Student reactions were very positive. “I never thought about these issues until I started on this project,” said Josh Painter from Lima, Ohio. “Since I commute from home, I decided to investigate the things [our family] throws away. Both my parents keep a lot of scraps, so they told me I could use anything in the garage.”

Josh created a trash can for a high-end bathroom. “I think people looking at this trash can will be amazed. It doesn’t look like that I started with meaningless scraps!”

The exhibit, called Reuse/Reduce, is on display in the Wilson Art Center through December 18, 2009 and is free and open to the public. Exhibit 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.

Ohio Northern offers both the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees with majors in advertising design, art education, graphic design and studio arts. The department of A&D holds memberships in national organizations such as the National Art Education Association, College Art Association, Foundations in Art: Theory and Education and the National Council on Education of Ceramic Arts. The department is recognized in the second edition of “Creative Colleges: A Guide for Student Actors, Artists, Dancers, Musicians and Writers” as one of the best creative programs nationwide. For additional information about the department of art & design, contact the department at 419.772.2160.