Students bring awareness by turning trash into art

April 30th, 2013 | SMWC

By Lisa Luper
Communications Intern

Sometimes art is beautiful. Other times, it is ugly. The sculpture in front of the Rooney Library at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) contrasts starkly with the flowering trees around it—a disturbing reminder of the blemish illegal dumping leaves on Indiana’s beautiful rivers and wetlands.

One of Indiana’s newest protected wetlands, the Wabashiki Fish and Wildlife Area, located west of the Wabash River, is often used for illegal dumping. Despite efforts to clean it up and restore its natural beauty, the dumping continues. SMWC’s Sustainability Club recently finished their third year of Operation Wabashiki as part of the cleanup, but this year they are taking it a step further. In an attempt to raise community awareness in a new way, they turned over the trash they collected earlier this month to members of SMWC’s art department who turned it into a sculpture titled Catch of the River as part of the Year of the River celebration.

Art and design seniors Colleen Daum (Fishers, Ind.), Katelyn Duke (Marshall, Ill.), and Annie Jones (Pierceton, Ind.) designed the Catch of the River. It is shaped like a large fish, partially buried in the ground as if just coming out of the water. The frame is constructed from chicken wire and PVC pipe donated by Lowe’s Home Improvement, and pieces of trash are attached to the inside and outside of the chicken wire. Catch of the River represents a reversal of the fish’s experience in the river, with the human symbolizing the trash as it moves around and through the fish.

“The fish is made out of trash, just like the Wabashiki is full of trash.” Duke said. The art students, who were also involved in the cleanup, were amazed at the variety of trash they found. “We found a lot of plastics because they never completely break down. There were a lot of small pieces of Styrofoam that the fishermen leave behind as well as plastic bags and newspapers. We even found a doll house and some vacuum cleaners, a coffee pot, and a swimming pool,” Jones said.

“We hope to bring awareness to how much waste we leave lying around and how it affects everything, not just us,” Daum added.

Rebecca Andrews, associate professor of graphic design, oversaw the project. She said that the sculpture isn’t pretty, but that it is art.

“It’s meant to make people feel uncomfortable. It’s meant to make people feel upset with what’s going into our rivers,” Andrews said.

Andrews proposed the project as part of the students’ art design major for the Year of the River celebration. Journalism Senior Jade Scott (Bloomingdale, Ind.) created a documentary of the project and Emily Fauber, an art and design senior with an emphasis in graphic design (Terre Haute, Ind.) designed promotion materials. Thirteen students from the 3-D Foundations class also assisted with the sculpture.

The sculpture will remain on display through May 4, 2013.

Photo:(l) Colleen Daum (Fishers, Ind.), Katelyn Duke (Marshall, Ill.), and Annie Jones (Pierceton, Ind.).

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