UVA students build art installation with single-use plastics for Earth Day

Updated: Feb. 22, 2020 at 6:32 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - University of Virginia students are teaming up with students from Charlottesville High School to build an art installation out of single-use plastics.

The WriteClimate project was started as an act of climate rebellion. UVA Professor Deborah Lawrence started the project as the United States was pulling out of the Paris Climate agreement. Lawrence and UVA students went around campus, asking people to write something about what climate change means to them.

“We talked to people," Lawrence said. "We got them to write something about climate, and then we took all the paper and we made art.”

In the first year, students created their own individual art pieces. That changed in the project’s second year.

“We kind of wanted something more cohesive and one larger piece,” UVA fourth-year student Carrie Wentzel said. “Quite frankly, we weren’t trained artists so we didn’t know how to do that.”

WriteClimate is now in its third year, with funding from the Jefferson Trust and oversight from artist Amanda Nelson. This year’s piece has a focus on plastics and re-usability, completely made by single-use plastics.

“Many of which are around food and products that come into our lives on our very regular basis to highlight the, kind of, and kind of the saturation of plastic in our world and its problems, and really how it’s related to climate change," Nelson said.

The students have been collecting single-use plastics for weeks. That act of monitoring their own plastic intake takes the project to the next level for the students.

“Until you actually see a big pile of your weekly plastic you don’t recognize how much you are using," Wentzel said. "Then being able to bring it all together in a really collaborative forum is something pretty special”

The full installation will be debuted at an event on Earth Day on April 22.

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