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

February—As 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.

This year, students were able to create fun, attractive and useful objectssuch as a clock inspired by famed designer George Nelson, picture frames, and clothing. “I never thought about my work in this way,” said Andrew Ascheman, a freshman art education major from Lima, “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 exhibit, called Reuse/Reduce, is on display in the Wilson Art Center through the month of February 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 with concentrations in two-dimensional, three-dimensional and pre-art therapy. 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, AIGA: The Professional Association for Design, and the National Council on Education of Ceramic Arts. The department is recognized in the second and third editions 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 or the University’s 2011–12 Arts Exhibition Season, contact the department at 419.772.2160.