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April 19, 2012

Bag It-Art Appreciation Installation
DWU students use ‘green architecture’ to make a point

By Cherie Ramsdell
Assistant art professor,
department chair

Through out the semester the question has been asked, “Do artists guide and influence society or do artists simply reflect the society in which they exist?” What do you think? What examples can you provide that support your opinion? Can we as art students influence or educate the community about an issue through art? In an attempt to discover the answers, the DWU students in the art appreciation class created this installation.

The primary objective was to create an awareness for the recycling of plastics. Students were asked to research from industry journals, the economic and environmental pros and cons of recycling plastics.

The topic of “green architecture” was also discussed. What is green architecture? In simple terms, it is structure, which is self-sustainable, environmentally friendly, made from recycled materials and operated with renewable energy like the sun or wind.

The Japan Pavilion designed by Shigeru Ban is created from paper, paper tubing and a little wood. Showcased at the 2000 World’s Fair, Ban states that the structure could last upwards of 100 years if maintained.  

Where shelter needs to be provided quickly and inexpensively, green architecture is on the forefront. These structures provide shelter in the aftermath of both natural and man-made crisis situations. 

After students began their research, the collecting of plastic shopping bags commenced. Boyd Blumer, adjunct religion instructor and member of the physical plant staff, built individual looms and students were instructed in the rudimentary skill of weaving.  Standards were mutually established based on quantity and quality of woven mats. Once individual mats were created, students worked as a team and assembled the larger mat. Discussions were held during class about the goals of the project and what would raise the most awareness while still providing an aesthetic experience. The class decided a shelter where the viewers would interact with the installation by walking through it would be the most effective. Blumer once again assisted our class by making the frame from scrap wood. The installation was then assembled and anchored.

This installation is comprised of approximately 2,500 bags and will remain in place for seven days between Smith Hall and the Sherman Center, providing the weather cooperates.




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Last updated: 4/19/12