More than just a Pretty Picture: Art Students Combat Plastic Pollution

Hello! It’s Kara Salinas, Spare Parts artist/educator writing about Margaret Bennett’s advanced art classroom participation in Spare Parts’ #Take5forSA project. Ms. Bennett at Brackenridge High School in San Antonio Independent School District. These students created reuse art for Spare Parts #Take5forSA, which is a month long online residency created by founder Mary Elizabeth Cantu that invites the public to reimagine trash by creative reuse. This is how it works: five pieces of trash are found daily for a month, picked up and then creatively reimagined into something new to encourage a more trash aware public. Here is the #Take5forSA project by local artist Laurel Gibson. Kimberly Garza, artist, also partook in #Take5forSA.

Ms. Bennett contacted Spare Parts after an online search about The Great Pacific Garbage Patch guided her class to our website. These students learned about Spare Parts’ visit to Hawaii and decided to focus their annual classroom project on making art to promote awareness about the devastation of ocean pollution. 

Spare Parts artist/educator presents about “Spare Parts Crosses the Pacific” with our founder Mary Elizabeth Cantu to Ms. Bennett’s advanced art students at Brackenridge High School. Students learned about The Great Pacific Garbage Patch and were informed about organizations such as Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii. 
Brackenridge High School students in Ms. Bennett’s advanced art class began work on their large installation sculptures for their exhibit titled “Seasick.” This tentacle, a work in progress at the time of this picture, is filled with newspapers and plastic bags. The concept for this sculpture came from Brackenridge High School student Andrew Gonzales, 11th grade. Also pictured, an information display developed to educate the campus about The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
 
Left: five pieces of found litter: a plastic utensil, gum wrapper, plastic bag, fruit wrapper and a plastic spring. Right: five pieces of litter reimagined by creative reuse into a seahorse by Brackenridge High School student Olivia Wilkerson-Carter, 11th grade
Bottom and top right: five pieces of found litter. Here: plastic forks, hair elastic, plastic hook and scrap metal.  Top left: five pieces of litter reimagined by creative reuse into a horse by Brackenridge High School student Jorge Reyes, 11th grade. #Take5forSA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brackenridge High School students participating in our #Take5forSA project rose to the occasion and participated beach cleanup with their art teacher Ms. Bennett. They planned a trip to take part in the 2018 Texas Adopt-A-Beach Winter Beach Cleanup in the Coastal Bend Area, which took place on Saturday, February 10, 2018. Students found several plastic toys, nets, ropes and shoes during the South Padre Island beach cleanup. These findings would further inspire all as they worked on their upcoming exhibit “Seasick,” which would open at Brackenridge High School, 400 Eagleland Drive, on April 5, 2018.

Top left and right: student-found beach litter on the Texas Coast such as plastic toys, a marble, plastic bottle cap and a plastic comb. Bottom and right: Beach cleanup team featuring Brackenridge H.S. student Litzi Rojas,12th grade, who is holding the yellow collection bag, and Ms. Bennett’s advanced art students attending the 2018 Texas Adopt-A-Beach Winter Beach Cleanup on Saturday, February 10, 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Seasick,” curated by Margaret Bennett, consists of a variety of student art works created by those participating in our #Take5forSA Instagram-based project. These works of art are created with trash found in and around their campus, and also from their February beach cleanup. Ms. Bennett and her students are inspired by Jack Johnson’s music, which she played in her classroom art studio. He is a musician and an environmental activist; their exhibit “Seasick” is a tribute to his song “Seasick Dream.” “Seasick” features art works such as sculpture, stop motion video, assemblage, repoussé and performance art.

“Plastic bag monster” performance art, worn by Brackenridge High School student Gabe Woltz, 12th grade, during “Seasick” art exhibition.
Top middle photo: Margaret Bennett (l) talking with Spare Parts artist/educator Laurel Bodinus (r) during “Seasick” reception at Brackenridge High School on April 5, 2018 curated by art teacher Margaret Bennett.

Since the opening of  “Seasick” the response from attendees are very positive.

“My husband and I were really blown away by the exhibit. It was so
colorful and imaginative. You could tell the students took this project to
heart by creating such a striking display. To think these art pieces used a
teeny, tiny fraction of the trash and plastic pollution in our oceans made
an impact on the artists and audience as well. This show should travel!”
-Laura Carter, President Friends of Spare Parts Board of Directors

Feedback from participating Brackenridge High School students in #Take5forSA have been positive, too.

“The trip allowed me to physically see the effects of plastic and pollution
on the environment, and has since increased my interest in solving the
problem in the future. So once again thank you, because we couldn’t
have done it without your help.”
-Elizabeth De Hoyos, Brackenridge H.S., 12th grade

“It was a learning experience for us all. It allowed me to see that our
actions do have consequences, but it is not too late to fix what we have
wronged. ”
-Olivia Wilkerson-Carter, Brackenridge H.S., 12th grade

To view the stop motion animated shorts from “Seasick” please click here.

Mr. Flores Visits Materials for the Arts

Here’s the front entrance of MFTA. I’m all bundled up; it was really cold in NYC over spring break.

By: Daniel Flores

 

As a full-time art teacher, I decided to take a trip to New York City during my Spring Break. As an art enthusiast, I wanted to see all the remarkable museums, architecture and design New York has to offer.

Having been a volunteer and now an educator for Spare Parts—whose mission is to advance reuse education through the arts—I’m always looking for new reuse ideas for art projects. In New York City, Materials for the Arts (MFTA) is the place to go! The Executive Director of Spare Parts Mary Elizabeth Cantú helped set up a ‘meet and greet’ with MFTA Director Harriet Taub.

MFTA is a very large building. When I first walked in, I got the sense it was a warehouse in a previous life. Up the elevator and into the entrance you see the Material for the Arts welcome sign.

There are encouraging and inspirational signs throughout the halls of MFTA.

 

Entering the office space, I was welcomed by one of the educators with a warm and friendly handshake. I received the grand tour of this magnificent space. Before stepping inside the impressive shop area of donated reusable items, you walk through the hallway of MFTA’s resident artists’ extraordinary work. All the exhibited works are created using reusable and re-purposed materials.

You then enter a secured door into the shop area, imagine a Costco or Sam’s but on a slightly smaller scale. All items are so organized and placed in a way unlike anything I’ve seen before. These items aren’t your regular paints and brushes, but categorized as books, office items, furniture, plastics, metals, etc. The books are categorized into fiction and nonfiction. Imagine walking into a huge Michael’s or a Hobby Lobby store. MFTA has creative displays at the front end of the aisles demonstrating various imaginative to give these materials a new life.

Here is one of the cool displays in the MFTA warehouse showing “How do we reuse Christmas ornaments?” By making a solar system, of course.

These displays and donated items are just a little bit of what you get to see from this outstanding facility. After the tour, I learned there is MFTA programming. MFTA offers ‘make and; take classes’ to surrounding schools. I was excited to see the educators in action. They are teaching New York’s young minds about the importance of reuse.

As an art educator, sometimes I think we forget, and need to be reminded—it’s not all about markers and crayons. MFTA is huge benefit for the City of New York. As a team member of Spare Parts, we are always looking for and learning new ways to teach our children, teens and the young at heart, how to use these items that might be forgotten or even thrown away. Visiting MFTA was important for me to get an interactive experience and spread these creative reuse ideas by bringing them to San Antonio.

Here’s an educator at work in a classroom setting telling kids about the importance of reuse.
New York City’s’s young minds are prompt to make robots from donated, preloved items.

I wanted to extend a thank you to MFTA and Director Harriet Taub for their generous hospitality, time and sharing of knowledge. Observing their educators in action was so encouraging and I will bring everything I learned to Spare Parts. Their warehouse is inspiring, and I look forward to help recreate it with the Spare Parts San Antonio team.

MFTA’s Executive Director Harriet Taub and me are standing in front of artwork made by the youth of New York City.

Top Books About Creative Reuse at Your Library

Reuse Got Me Reading!

By Laura Kraus, Librarian & Spare Parts Volunteer Coordinator

If you don’t frequent your local branch of the San Antonio Public Library (SAPL), you should probably take some time on a lazy Sunday to see what’s available: you might be surprised at everything that’s offered. They have programs for adults and children, host musicians and artists and of course they have books! If you don’t have a library card, it’s super easy to get one – go to any of the SAPL branches, present your ID and proof of Bexar County address. You can also pre-register online and get access to online resources.

As a librarian, I was excited to see SAPL has plenty of good print resources about creative reuse, sustainability, and the environment in general. I’ve put together two lists: one for adults and one for the younger crowd. My choices include crafty books to get you inspired to reuse what might be considered trash to some, and turn it into your own personal treasure. I’ve also included informational books to get you thinking about the state of our world, and the ways in which we, as its inhabitants, can make small changes to help out.

So, whether you’re looking for something creative to do on your time off, or a way to introduce a little one in your life to a value of our environment, take a moment to peruse these lists and see what sparks passion in you. #reusegotmethinking

Have any questions? Feel free to contact me (laurak@sparepartssa.org) and I’m happy to help.

 

Young Adult and Children’s Books on Reuse and Sustainability

Recycle This Book : 100 Top Children’s Book Authors Tell You How to Go Green

 

Don’t Throw That Away! : A Lift-the-Flap Book About Recycling and Reusing
Bergen, Lara

 

The Life Cycle of Paper
Costain, Meredith

 

Cool Odds and Ends Projects : Creative Ways to Upcycle Your Trash into Treasure
Scheunemann, Pam

 

Second-Time Cool : The Art of Chopping Up A Sweater
Lindén Ivarsson, Anna-Stina

 

What Can You Do With An Old Red Shoe? : A Green Activity Book About Re-use
Alter, Anna

 

Trash to Treasure : A Kid’s Upcycling Guide to Crafts : Fun, Easy Projects with Paper, Plastic, Glass
Scheunemann, Pam

 

Generation T : 108 Ways to Transform a T-shirt
Nicolay, Megan

 

47 Things You Can Do for the Environment
Petronis, Lexi

Adult Books on Reuse and Sustainability

1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse : Remake, Restyle, Recycle, Renew
Johnson, Garth.

 

Garbology : Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash
Humes, Edward

 

Use Less Stuff : Environmentalism for Who We Really Are
Lilienfeld, Robert M

 

Better : The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living
Caldwell, Nicole

 

Modern Upcycling : A User-Friendly Guide to Inspiring and Repurposed Handicrafts for a Trendy Home
Zacke, Susanna

 

Don’t Throw it Out : Recycle, Renew, and Reuse to Make Things Last
Baird, Lori

 

Rubbish : Reuse Your Refuse
Shoup, Kate

 

Refashioned Bags : Upcycle Anything into High-Style Handbags
Blakeney, Faith.

 

Stylish Remakes : Upcycle Your Old T’s, Sweats and Flannels into Trendy Street Fashion Pieces
Room, Violette

 

The Art of Cardboard : Big Ideas for Creativity, Collaboration, Storytelling, and Reuse
Zimmer, Lori