WOW! What an incredible time was had at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh over Earth Week 2010! I’m ecstatic to report that our newest project, TRASH-formation, which the kind folks at UWOSH hosted and to helped to fund, exceeded our expectations.
In case you don’t remember from previous posts, TRASH-formation is an interactive art experience that converts University garbage into an aesthetically stunning and sustainably built sculpture. Since this was our first attempt at the idea, we didn’t know exactly what to expect, but we were hoping that students would get involved, help us build the piece, become inspired and have fun. Without question, all of those goals were met!
With the help of Art Customs artists Robin Banks and Jon Patty, along with some great music from DJ Ryan Nelli, we were able to create a welcoming creative environment—over the course of three days, hundreds of students came to learn how to build, paint, weld, and use a plasma cutter for the first time. For materials, OWOSH Facilities Management donated some surplus pieces to us, which included filing cabinets, computer parts, old furniture. We used these, as well as recyclable bottles and cans, paper waste, scrap metal to create the structural bases and decorative elements of our creations.
Robin, the main artist behind TRASH-formation, wanted to emphasize functionality as well as aesthetics in his design, and so the final product is something that students can both enjoy looking at as well as use. We made a “TRASH-form” stage using filing cabinets, complete with an amphitheater style arch built out of computer panels. Filing cabinets were also used to construct a seating area with beautiful, large metal flowers emerging from “planters” (recycling bins) on either side. A 20-foot tall palm tree in the middle (trash barrels, computer components, scrap metal, etc.) provides shade and visual interest (and a little reminder of California for all you Wisconsin peeps)! We hope both sculptures, which took 2.5 days to build, will serve as student gathering spots for a long time to come.
An extra-special highlight occurred when the Chancellor of the University gave a speech from our stage, using his own UWOSH podium. After his speech, we conducted “TRASH-talk” from the stage, where Robin and I, along with UWOSH Sustainability Board representatives Stephanie Spehar and Jim Feldman and some environmental studies students led a discussion on improving waste management, reducing consumption and sustainable living.My heartfelt thanks go out to all who helped us complete this project, including UWOSH Facilities Management, Jim Feldman, Stephanie Spehar, and of course the UWOSH students, teachers and administrators who made it all possible! And a big thank you to the Student Environmental Action Coalition, Pepsi Fund, American Democracy Project, Reeve Union Board, Anthropology Club, Religious Studies & Anthropology Department, 18 Chairs Sculpture Club, Steinhilber Art Gallery, Campus Sustainability Office for helping to fund TRASH-formation.