February 9, 2016

The Plastic Project

Montevallo, Ala. – Amy Feger’s ART 100 class at the University of Montevallo, is a general education class that is open to all non-majors focusing on art awareness and the basics of design.

However in Feger’s class during the fall 2015 semester, students were exposed to both art and environmental awareness. By constructing a structure made completely of their own plastic waste, students used their project to raise awareness of the power that an image can hold while also shining a light on the impact plastic waste has on animals and the environment.

Feger’s inspiration for the structure came from a scientific symposium that discussed the impact of plastic waste on the environment. After learning of the Pacific gyre, an accumulation of non-biodegradable waste in the Pacific Ocean that is the size of Texas, Feger used the class as an opportunity to combine environmental and art awareness.

The students were tasked with collecting all their plastic for eight weeks. Following collection, students sorted the plastic by color, resembling an artist’s palette. Just as each color brings its own temperature and mood to a painting to tell a story, the plastic sculpture is a portrait of the 27 students. Each student’s plastic and trash was uniquely different, from soccer players’ Gatorade bottles to a broken blender and Halloween candy wrappers spread throughout.

The smaller objects were representative of a growing giant problem. The structure allowed the students to quantify their own personal consumption and the impact of the students as a whole, representative of a community.

“This was an active learning opportunity to experience art and environmental awareness,” said Feger, an adjunct art professor.

The project promoted student’s critical thinking, taught the basics of design while working with plastics and developing a structure and also allowed students to see the impact of their plastic consumption.

The structure is held together by 574 plastic bags, which were braided for support. Originally built in a classroom, the giant sculpture is now suspended from the ceiling in the Carmichael Library on the University of Montevallo campus. The temporary display will be up until March 11 and the majority of the sculpture will be recycled once it is taken down.