Friday, April 18, 2014

The Art of Sustainability

Yesterday, I took my classes on a field trip to a Sustainability Symposium at Cal State Fullerton.  It was part of Earth Week on campus, and included speakers on various topics relating to sustainability, which basically involves living in a harmonious, as opposed to destructive, relationship with the world around us.  

My friend Cynthia Chavez, a graduate student in environmental studies at CSUF, spoke about the decline of honeybee populations, and described an experiment she (and fellow students) conducted at the Fullerton Arboretum, in which crops were planted alongside bee-attracting flowers, in an effort to increase local pollination.  Fred Smoller, a professor of political science at Chapman Universiry, described an event that happens at the Orange County Great Park called the Solar Decathalon, in which students from around the world compete to build houses which rely on solar power.  English professor Natalie Operstein spoke about "linguistic sustainability" and how languages are dying all the time, and how to stop this linguistic genocide.  

In addition to the speakers, there were "Poster Stations" created by students about various local non-profit groups that are involved in making Orange County more sustainable, groups like Tzu Chi Foundation, Orange County Food Bank, Ronald McDonald House, and CSUF Rainworks.

Perhaps the most powerful aspect of the symposium, for me, was the artwork.  Art students from CSUF created pieces that addressed issues of sustainability that they cared about.  Here are the artworks, along with descriptions by the students who created them.

"Oil Spill" by Mike Trujillo

This project portrays an oil spill and some terrified sea creatures.  It shows the oil invading and polluting the habitat of these animals.  This is what can happen when sustainability is not kept in mind.  The effects of an oil spill can be devastating for the animals that live in the ocean.  It also ends up having a negative impact on the lives of humans.

"Isolation" by Lilit Ghazarian

Technological advancement threatens the sustainability of warm, human interaction; isolating loved ones form one another and slowly removing the human race from our decaying world.

"Encroachment" by Greg Bustos

The overwhelming encroachment of urban sprawl on the open spaces around us is that inspired me to create this image.  The symbolism of a lone tree amid the concrete jungle is meant to represent both the fragility of nature as well as its resiliency.  More than anything, my hope is that we are someday able to appreciate and preserve areas of beautiful wilderness for future generations to enjoy and celebrate, rather than sacrificing them to the altar of "progress."

"Overpopulation" by Shine Hong

My poster brings awareness towards overpopulation and how so many people are unaware.  Overpopulaton goes hand in hand with pollution and overconsumption.  Overconsumption is a situation where resource use had outpaced the sustainable capacity of the ecosystem.  It basically means the more people there are the more consumption of raw materials needed to sustain their lives.

"Mermaid" by Amber Harris

With the creation of my mermaid piece, I intended to demonstrate how pollution threatens not just the beauty of our oceans, but our reliance on it as well.  I chose the mythological creature of a mermaid because it represents two important aspects: marine life and human life.  By giving her a human face, a more direct relation is placed on our conniption to the ocean, making the message hit closer to home that we need to lessen our wasteful impact in order to sustain ocean life.  A clean ocean is a sustainable one, one that nourishes both aquatic and land life.

"Nature Overcomes" by Katelyn Lizardi

In the urbanized culture we live in, much of the beauty of nature us pushed aside.  Houses are built, roads are paved, and less and less of the population experiences such pleasures as working in the garden or exploring the grandeur of our national parks.  Nature Overcomes is an illustration signifying the importance of nature and the responsibility we have to sustain the lifeblood of our earth.  Humanity has the great honor of inhabiting this beautiful planet, but also the tremendous responsibility of sustaining it.

"Smog" by Amanda Carrigan

When I created this poster, my main focus was to bring attention to the importance of combating pollution, especially in the big cities.  Living in Southern California, every morning I see smog over the horizon of my commute, and I really brought that experience into my work.  The correlation between the woman and the smog over the city skyline is that pollution is a sort of environmental cigarette that damages the environment just as a cigarette pollutes a human's lungs.  Without clean air, not only are we damaging the land we live in, but we are not sustaining it for future generations.  My hope is to bring awareness to an issue that people seem to so easily overlook and to make sustainability a goal that our society can work towards.

"Mother Earth" by Natalie May

With the theme of "sustainability," I wanted to cover the issue on society's dependency on the limited resource of oil.  To me, watercolor is the perfect medium to illustrate nature because it is graceful, flowing, reactive, and intensely expressive; just as nature.  I chose to interpret earth in a figurative form to bring the conflict on a personal and relatable level.  Capturing the horror in a figurative "mother each" as we bleed her dry creates drama to catch the eye.  Going with dramatic imagery gets a stronger reaction from viewers, which is why this piece is so powerful.  My intention with this poster is to hook viewers with its vividness and then push them to think and ask questions.  We can't rely on earth's natural resources forever and need to produce eco-friendly alternatives.

"Fading World" by Rodney Nelson

Due in part to mankind, ocean acidification is not only taking away the beautiful environments of coral reefs, but also the many resources, such as medicine ingredients, that exist only in the reefs.  Only with a deliberate effort from us can we sustain these environments.

"Needless Sacrifice" by Riana Dorsey

To be sustainable in using Earth's resources is to be mindful about what we take and create as little needless waste and negative effects on the environment as possible.  Shark finning has proven itself to be an immensely inhumane and unsustainable practice.  Every year, tens of millions of sharks are sacrificed for the greedy consumption of their fins.  The finless sharks are then disposed into the ocean like garbage, left to die and their bodies to rot.  Not only does shark finning affect shark populations, it affects entire marine systems.  Shark finning is a needless act that ultimate produces needless effects.

"In Memoriam" by Alexis Draper

I want to present a glimpse of a future in which human carelessness has cost us our home.  Instead of preserving our planet's resources, we sacrificed sustainability in favor of unchecked consumption.  The landscape is barren.  What little that remains of Earth's past life exists only as a memory confined to a display case, a memorial for the planet we lost.

"Defective Future" by Joshua Ramirez

Sustaining our future includes safeguarding the next generations of the human race.  As we live more unnaturally, our future suffers.  This piece illustrates birth defects caused by pollution and non-sustainable living.

"Kraken" by Cory Fox

The "Kraken" is about our need to take drastic measures to change our ways to avoid an inevitable doom.  It is about how we need to switch to a sustainable energy source and move away from things like oil which is not only un-sustainable bur poisons and pollutes our planet.

"Plant These to Save the Bees" by Cat Haverstick

The sudden decline in the honeybee population means more than just the loss of honey -- bees are important to the growth of crops worldwide.  While the use of pesticides in industrial agriculture is one of the bees biggest threats and a single individual can only speak out against this practice, individuals can do things for their local bees.  Planting flowers that produce plentiful nectar and pollen will create valuable areas for bees to feed and thrive.  "Plant These to Save the Bees" is just a small list of plants that are great for honeybees, and even if someone can only plant a tiny pot of bee-loved flowers on their patio, they're doing something great for their local bees that will hopefully encourage others to do the same.

"Tire Sea" by Brandi Benson

I want to emphasize the amount of tire pollution there is on certain lakes, rivers, and oceans.  In addition, I want to illustrate how this pollution affects sea life and how they might evolve to adapt to it.  Pollution in general is very detrimental to our planet.  Keeping our ocean clean provides a safe habitat for surrounding wildlife to enjoy.

"Don't Forget Your Roots" by Adriana Ruiz

Stylized in the form of Victorian portraiture, the couple serves as a piece of the past.  Too often we forge to appreciate our natural environment and remind ourselves that we are a part of it.  A play on the word "roots," the poster serves as a reminder to sustain our relationship with our natural environment.

"Recycle, Recycle, Recycle!" by Jahrome Youngker

Everyone can recycle, even small amounts, or large amounts in this poster!  It reduces waste and allows our precious resources to be sustainable.  And everyone can have fun doing it!

"Building a Better Future" by Lauren Knipper

I believe that living and working together is key to creating a brighter future for humanity.  By using materials that are eco-friendly, like solar panels and green roofs, we can create sustainable housing to build ourselves a better future.

"No Longer Endangered" by Gina Aube

When visiting Louisiana, I learned the American alligator was once endangered.  After protecting them, they gathered eggs and bred the alligators to increase population and return them back to sustainable levels.  They maintain these levels through a viable commercial harvest and now they are no longer endangered, but protected.

"Clean Air" by Brittany Wentz

This piece was created to encourage people to learn more about the clean air initiative.  This idea helps with the sustainability movement by visually captivating the viewer and expressing the idea of clean air and the simple solution to helping the environment.

"Trust Us" by Alex Erlich

This poster is intended to be a satirical depiction of our current dependence on nuclear energy.  Eventually we will need to find an alternative, sustainable source of energy our of necessity, but the sooner, the better.


The Sustainability Symposium challenged me to think about ways in which I am contributing to harming the environment, and ways in which I can live differently.

1 comment:

  1. Woah! Nice to see my work on here and that of my peers.

    ReplyDelete