BOTTLE CAPS IN BATTLE CREEK
THURSDAY APRIL 12, 2012
Sabine LeDieu is an artist who likes to support arts through environmental work. ETC ARTS Studio promotes quality art made by everyday people for everyone, everywhere. Calhoun County Solid Waste Department wants to make a greater impact with recycling throughout the county. The three came together, blended their passions and created Trash2Art, a project that has elementary and middle school kids creating interactive sculptures out of recycled materials. Earth Day 2012 will mark the unveiling of this community art initiative designed to inspire environmental stewardship.
“The project is all about connecting art and recycling and kids,” said LeDieu. “Since only 9% of Americans recycle, we wanted to do something that would make an impact on them while they’re still young.” LeDieu, who has worked with ETC ART Studio for about a year to increase community involvement at the studio, elicited the support of ETC and its Sales, Marketing and Communications Director Michelle Sears.
“We approached several schools in each community with the idea of finding a champion at that school,” said LeDieu. “The project takes some time and effort, so we needed lots of buy-in. The schools we selected demonstrated the most buy-in.” Riverside Elementary and Springfield Middle Schools in Battle Creek were chosen.
Using metal and plastic bottle tops and other recycled or reclaimed articles, the students have created public art sculptures. The student body as well as various community businesses worked together to collect the recycled bottle tops. Each sculpture invites participation by the viewer and also offers tips on recycling.
In keeping with the theme of environmental stewardship, each sculpture has a QR code that links to a website where people can see and learn more about the project. “We didn’t want to have papers or brochures blowing around,” said Sears. The students have even created a Flickr group for sharing photos of their sculptures and are encouraged to tour the sculptures at other schools. “Its wonderful to watch kids connect on a non-competitive level,” said LeDieu.
“The kids have been so appreciative of being able to do something for their community, to be included in a professional community art project,” said LeDieu. “They like the idea of increasing awareness about recycling among their peers. They’re really excited to make a difference” The sculptures will be installed outdoors at the schools so everyone can enjoy the work.
“The kids also love being in the studio making art,” said LeDieu. “Their sculptures allow for interaction on many different levels: three dimensional sculptures, kinetic sculptures that move – and there’s always an element of interaction, a physical ability to be with the sculpture.”
Empowering youth to beautify their environment with art is one of the goals of the project. “But we’re really hoping to see an increase in community art and an increased awareness of environmental issues,” said LeDieu. The two women hope to expand the project to include kids of all ages and get additional schools to join in.
“We’d like to see other counties come onboard,” said Sears. LeDieu is willing to consult with other organizations and artists interested in starting a similar project. “We want to see the project grow,” said LeDieu.
For Battle Creek, it’s bottle caps. For other communities and counties it may be other recyclable objects. Bottom line, this project introduces a creative model calling young people to act on issues critical to their community while producing professional public art to help build awareness.