Being the type of girl who finds herself wandering into thrift stores and rummaging through used goods, I am all too familiar with the saying, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” After being exposed to the impactful art pieces created by the 757’s local high school students, I may even look twice at the so-called “trash” I throw away.
The exhibit, “Art for Change,” is being held at Old Dominion University’s Virginia Beach campus. It displays the artistic composition pieces of Bayside, Green Run and Tallwood high school students as part of Youth Art Month 2014.
Although the schools differed in this collaborative effort, the theme was unanimous: “Art for Change.”
The goal was to challenge these art students to create a piece of artwork, made soley of trash and/or recycled materials, by utilizing and repurposing items individuals don’t necessarily think twice about throwing away.
The pieces, either freestanding sculptures or self-portraits, included elements such as tissue paper, checkerboard pieces, water bottles, jean fabric, newspaper and magazine scraps and pieces of broken CD’s. Some students even surpassed the typical items we unconsciously dispose and incorporated objects such as headphones, old dolls, small plastic trinkets that resembled drive-thru happy meal toys and even trophies.
Vik Muniz inspired the concept. He is a Brazilian artist and photographer who uses unconventional materials such as toys, magazine clippings and chocolate sauce to create eccentric, yet stunning tableaus re-created from photographs.
The students gained their inspiration after they watched “Waste Land,” Muniz’s award winning documentary that took place on Jardim Gramacho, one of the world’s largest landfills just outside of Rio de Janiero. The students also visited Muniz’s exhibit currently displayed at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art.
Anne Baker, lead art teacher at Bayside High School, explained the impact Muniz’s message had on her students.
“They were really moved by Vik’s…philosophy and how art can be powerful and it can create a change in people’s lives.”
All three schools held the common ground of art changing the way we see the world, but each branched off, giving a separate approach to the interpretation. Baker discussed her sculpture students’ theme, “Honoring Change.”
“My kids had to honor someone or something that changed their lives, so it was very special in that they pulled into something that was personal.”
Alongside Baker, Erika Hitchcock, Tricia Campbell and Susan Schutte also incorporated their personal twist to the overall theme.
Green Run Collegiate and Green Run High School’s MYP art foundation and art foundation students focused on “Art for Change,” in which they expressed the message of sustainability and consumerism in their self-portraits after collecting their own personal trash for ten days.
Tallwood High School’s AP students contemplated the question of how consumer behavior related to their personal values in “Valued Treasures,” where they developed works that represented their most valued life treasure.
Tallwood High School’s ceramics, sculpture, fine arts and crafts students also contributed by reflecting on their personal identity and connection with technology in “Technology Portraits,” using abandoned tech items such old cell phones, game pieces and computer parts.
This event in particular unintentionally aligned up beautifully with ODU’s Art 305 art concepts students as they analyzed and contemplated conservation and humanitarianism.
Chuck Allison, retiree after serving 20 years in the Navy and an ODU student studying special education, volunteered his time to assist the students and helped them set up their pieces in the Atrium.
“We try to just give them a little bit of encouragement. Ask them how they come up with their design…what motivated them [and] what some of their future plans are,” Allison said.
The “Art for Change” exhibit will continue to be on display through April 7.
By Veronica Singer