Students recycle and reuse to create art
Posted: 04/21/2009
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In an effort to help raise awareness about the environment, art students at The University of Texas-Pan American spent the past few weeks creating art from recycled materials and found objects to display at a local event commemorating Earth Day, celebrated April 22.

UTPA graduate art student Erum Javed models her wearable art creation made with organza and eggshell details at Vida Verde in McAllen April 18.
UTPA art students displayed more than 20 pieces of art at McAllen's Vida Verde Earth Day festival this past weekend at Quinta Mazatlan.

"It's very important for art students to participate in shows and public events," said Donna Sweigart, assistant professor of art at UTPA. "Projects like this are wonderful because they build student's portfolios and allow them the opportunity to participate professionally."

Sweigart's students designed and created fashion ensembles out of materials such as plastic bags, egg shells, cardboard, old drapes and hand-me-down clothing. Art lecturer Christopher Leonard's class created large scale bugs from recycled supplies that were on display at the event too.

Kristy Ayala, UTPA senior biology major, designed and created a skirt with attached recycled aluminum cans titled "Fun with Coke."

"I enjoyed the project because I got to learn a lot about Coca-Cola and its many uses," Ayala said. "It's really important that we take care of the Earth and the project allowed us to do that."

Fine Arts graduate student Erum Javed created a dress made from organza and eggshells and said it was well received at the public event. She said she was most proud of the fact that her project made her children more conscious about the environment and reusing materials.

"For me, it was a great lesson to teach my children - that they can make something out of nothing or trash," Javed said. "It made them more aware about the things they were throwing away and that's important because the Earth's resources are diminishing."

Sweigart said the projects were beneficial to students because it allowed them to step outside of their comfort zone and explore new forms of creating art.

"This project was great for students because it forced them to use alternative materials and to think about using them in ways they never thought of before," she said.