October 31, 2017

A unique art installation recognized the effects of plastics pollution during Campus Sustainability Month.

The project, organized by student volunteers with the Johnson Center for Civic Engagement, featured art installations constructed of discarded plastics that were collected from around campus.

“We created a variety of creatures using those plastic scraps and placed them in specified areas around campus,” said project leader Emily Osback, a senior environmental studies major from Bourbonnais, Ill. “Each site had one or more signs educating viewers about how those creatures depicted are affected by plastics.”

Art installations included:

  • A whale ribcage constructed of plastic bottles on the lawn of Apfelbaum Hall. Nearby, a sign described the impact of plastics on whales and other large aquatic mammals.
  • A school of fish made of plastic bottles and bottle parts, as well as other plastic materials, on the lawn of the Natural Sciences Center. This display described how fisheries and local fish are impacted by plastics.
  • Several jellyfish, squid and other deep-water creatures made of plastic bags and bottles hung inside the Natural Sciences Center. Here students displayed information describing the effects of plastics on ocean creatures.
  • Tubes containing non-recyclable plastics found from all of the dining places around campus. Each tube was accompanied by information about plastic usage in Pennsylvania, the U.S. and globally, and how it affects the world.

“We wanted to have a significant impact on campus,” Osback said, “while also educating viewers about the detrimental impacts of plastics, as well as engaging them with a more artistic approach.”

Other students involved in the effort were senior Andrew Van Woert, an earth and environmental sciences major from Fogelsville, Pa.; senior Ashley Sandstrom, a political science major from Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.; and senior Josh Levesque, an ecology major from Westminster, Md.