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Environmental Sculptures

Environmental ScupltureEnvironmental ScupltureStudents at Mission San Jose High School created Environmental Sculptures as part of a unit lesson in Edie Christensen’s Art 1 class. The assignment challenges students to use found, clinic reclaimed, recycled and repurposed items to create a sculpture carrying an environmental message.

The assignment from Ms. Christensen:

“You will work in groups of three students to design an environmentally themed sculpture. It will be made from recycled materials. You may use papier-mâché construction, templates cut with craft knives or scissors, hot glued and finished with paint, fabric or other recycled materials. Found objects can be used as well as other construction with approval. This is conceptual art. When you write your group artists’ statement, please identify symbols and the meaning behind your sculpture. Symbols may include colors, subject matter, textures as well as objects that are repurposed. Have fun, work as a team, focus, and give yourself time to clean up each day.”

Environmental Sculpture Rubric:

  1. Environmental themed sculpture that uses recycled materials. 25 points.
  2. Well Crafted: no loose parts falling off. Well-balanced. 25 points.
  3. Well painted and completely finished 25 points.
  4. Shows thought and effort 25 points.
  5. Shows creative use  of materials 25 points.
  6. Well written statement that describes sculptural idea and symbols as well as materials used. This statement is correctly spelled, typed, trimmed and mounted on black paper. The statement includes title of sculpture, full names of all group members, class period and Art 1. 25 points.

The assignment encourages both artistic and environmental learning. One group noted:

“The huge amounts of incorrect waste disposal along with oils spills have caused serious environmental issues that nature can no longer cope with. The model we have created depicts the story of an innocent sea turtle who is unable to return to his ocean home due to the filth and trash that was carelessly left behind. Pieces of trash such as plastic thrown into sewers or purposely left behind on beaches slowly make their way into the hearts of all oceans while putting the lives of many marine animals into harm’s way. It is important that we always keep in mind the significance of maintaining the cleanliness of our environment and the safety of our wildlife. So the next time you see a piece of trash, pick it up, because we can save the oceans and all the animals in it by throwing away one piece of trash at a time.”

"Out of Hand""Out of Hand"Another group created the sculpture entitled, “Out of Hand.” Their artists’ statement illuminates the groups’ artistic and environmental thinking:

"For our project we used recycled aluminum foil as molds for a pair of hands and birds which were later reinforced with scarp papier-mâché. We rolled the remaining paper into rolls to resemble cigarettes. We used recycled cardboard to construct the falling buildings. After everything was painted over in acrylics to make them appear stained and damaged, we used hot glue to piece everything together. Our vision was to create the outreached hands of a smoker, surrounded by the chaos and disaster caused by cigarette smoking. The skeletal hand formed by the cigarettes show that our smoke can and will inadvertently lower air quality and choke animals.

While smoking may not seem like a huge environmental cancer, humans contribute huge amounts of carbon dioxide without realizing that while they are harming themselves, their secondhand smoke also affects the wildlife whose habitats humans also share. According to reports, pollution form smoking is at least 10 times greater than diesel car exhaust; additionally, environmental tobacco smoke produces particulate matter which, if inhaled in large and continuous amounts, can be life-threatening. (Cigarette smoking is also the world’s most preventable cause of premature death among adults.) Cigarettes also take around 25 years to fully decompose, so the rate of consumption is arguably faster than the rate that humans can dispose of them. Air pollution from smoking has a strong positive correlation with diseases such as lung cancer, heart attacks, and strokes. Therefore, smoking can cause just as much harm to animals as it does to humans. If we don’t control smoke pollution by limiting cigarette usage, this problem could soon prove to go out of hand."