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Penn State Mont Alto Student Artworks Celebrate Sustainability

A wide array of sustainable artwork is featured in the “Annual Reused and Recycled Student Art Show” at Penn State Mont Alto in the Museum of Temporary Art,  located in the Student Success Center, Room 102, of the General Studies building. The public is welcome to view the art through April 17. To view additional artworks, click here.

The students’ artworks – created in Art Instructor Freya Qually’s classes – incorporate such items as orange juice bottles, bottle caps, cardboard, and plastic wrap.

Qually assigns this annual project because she believes educating students about “the taking” of resources is essential. “It is the single biggest thing we do on this planet,” she said.

The assignment is given before spring break, allowing students to find their materials while away from campus. “I encourage them to salvage materials they would think is trash,” she said.

For inspiration, Qually shows students the award-winning documentary, “Waste Land,” which illustrates the possible impact of sustainable art. Brazilian artist Vik Muniz – known for his sustainable artwork – completed a project that incorporated trash from the world's largest garbage dump in Rio de Janeiro with the help of garbage pickers. Their artwork was eventually sold at a prestigious auction house in London and the money from project not only benefitted the workers but also transformed their lives and their community.

“That project made the pickers aware of the importance of their work,” said Qually. “It highlights the essential role they play in sustainability, elevated their lives and raised consciousness,” she said.

Forest technology student Joshua Brenneman ’14 created a piece entitled, “Potential Future.” Made from recycled paper, it is meant to illustrate “the difference in our society,” he said.

“The earth has smog and the main tree is half alive and half dead,” said Brenneman. “It is disturbing that in our society we take good care of our cars and houses, but we don’t take good care of our world…It seems counterintuitive, but forestry is how we care for the earth and make sure it is there for future generations.”

While Qually encourages students to create artwork that makes a statement about sustainability, it is not required. “I want them to create art for art’s sake,” she said.

Samantha Gladhill ’17, who is studying kinesiology, used an old clock, a CD and marbles for her artwork, entitled “Time Machine.”
Forest technology student Hamza Mastroddi ’15 created his artwork centering on his passion for African Penguins – an endangered species due to a combination of threats from dietary competition with commercial fisheries to global climate change.

Several artworks from this show were selected to compete with other schools in the region by Michael Baird, branch manager of Siemens Corp., in the Siemens Student Sustainability Student Art Show. Award winners will be announced on May 22. They will receive cash awards and their works will be hung for one year in Siemen’s corporate office in Mechanicsburg. Last year, Madeline (Maddie) Erickson ’13 won first prize for her piece entitled, “License Plate Forest.”

Sustainability is a fundamental value of Penn State University. Through the comprehensive integration of sustainability, the University will prepare students, faculty, and staff to be sustainability leaders.

For more information about the event, contact Senior Instructor in Art Freya Qually at 717-749-6202 or fxq1@psu.edu

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