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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Garbage made beautiful, art made sustainable

Shiny glass bottles and aluminum cans reach towards the ceiling as color-coded bottle caps form petals around the tower. Crows hang from the ceiling and plastic bottles stuffed with colorful trash line shelves on the walls.On Sept. 1, artist Bryant Holsenbeck gave a presentation in Hege Library Art Gallery about the Gallery’s new art installation “Again and Never Again.” Holsenbeck spent two weeks creating the installation out of garbage and recycled material.

“Art’s going to change the world, you know that right?” Holsenbeck said. “It’s going to change it.”

Holsenbeck began her presentation by stating that Americans create more garbage per capita than any other culture in the world. Each citizen creates about 4.5 pounds of garbage per day.

“I always like to use quantities of things because it shows that when you throw stuff away, or even recycle things, it’s still out there,” said Holsenbeck in a phone interview.

The impact on students and faculty alike was noticeable as they walked around the installation, taking it all in.

“I’ve never thought about the plastic tabs that are on bread bags,” said senior Moe Asad. “I always just throw them away. But she turned them into something beautiful.”

Holsenbeck did not build the installation alone. Students were able to work with the artist and, according to students, Holsenbeck gave them a lot of responsibility. Over a hundred students participated in the installation, whether it was through FYE classes or of their own initiative.

“I think it’s really great how (Holsenbeck) let a lot of people work with her because working with the material by hand really drives the idea of how much we’re wasting home,” said Madison Hetzel, a sophomore who participated.

The installation’s beauty is not the only astounding thing about it. The message it establishes is just as powerful.

This year is Guilford’s “Green and Beyond” year of sustainability. The installation is a positive step towards awareness of how much plastic, glass, and garbage is out in the world that can be reused.

“One of the things I love most about (the installation) is that each bottle cap marks a piece of food,” said Kelsey McMillan ’08, curator pro tem for the art gallery. “That’s a lot of food. And that’s all her collection, not the United States’ or the state of North Carolina’s, and that shows so much waste.”

The installation provided students and faculty with an opportunity to think about ways to become more sustainable at Guilford.

“I want to lower the lights in all residence halls after quiet hours,” said Asad, a resident advisor in Milner Hall. “Ever since I’ve been at Guilford, the lights have been running and running and I can’t catch them. And I don’t even think the light bulbs are high efficiency.”

Other students believe that classes can be a portal to a more sustainable world.

“The ‘Sculpture in Nature’ class is a crucial class because everything used is all sustainable, all nonimpact,” said sophomore Daniel Saperstein. “I don’t think that being sustainably consciousness and our academic lives need to be separate.”

Students were not the only ones to participate. The project provoked and engaged faculty as well.

“We’re all aware how much trash we create but this just brings it all home,” said Bob Williams, professor of economics. “Also, it shows a certain beauty and that we can reuse and recycle in a lot of artistic ways. Our college is doing a lot, and we ought to be proud.”

Holsenbeck is going a year without using one-use plastic materials; a message which she hopes will communicate to industries that consumers will not buy non-sustainable products.

She hopes that students will pay attention to the little things, like putting recycling in the correct bins.

“If you want to change something, say something,” said Holsenbeck. “People will change if we tell them to. I challenge all of you to try.

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