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Saturday, September 23, 2023

Life + Arts

Green art promotes campus recycling

This month, the UH Green movement is promoting a campuswide art contest featuring recycled products.

Open to students, faculty and staff, the Art of Recycling Contest calls for the synthesis of cans and ‘can do’ attitudes for creating art from odds and ends bound for the black and blue recycling bins.

The Art of Recycling Contest developed from what began as a small art contest during RecycleMania in March.

Participants will create mixed-media pieces designed to fit into one of four categories: 2-D wall hangings, 3-D freestanding, wearable art or the most varieties of Coca-Cola products.

One exemplary freestanding piece is an enormous cougar that appears ready to spring into action.

‘We want to promote campus recycling first of all, but we also hope to raise awareness of all the items we use every day that can be recycled,’ University Services Marketing Manager Maria Honey said.

UH’s dedication to promoting green initiatives, and to encourage creative expression in its community allowed for this contest to occur.

‘The University is committed in raising green awareness to our UH community and works to have memorable green programs that not only educate, but that are fun,’ Honey said.

The art will be on display at the University Center Arbor on Nov. 19. UH students will determine the prize-winning piece in each category, and can vote from noon to 5 p.m. for their favorite piece.

The four winning artists will be announced at the ‘Go Coogs! Go Green!’ football game against Memphis on Nov. 21 at Robertson Stadium. Each will receive a $250 gift card from

Just as participants will encounter the issue of reusing materials, artists in other time periods and cultures had similar issues in designing art.

Art history assistant professor Sarah Costello said that the Roman Empire is particularly recognized for the reuse of marble and bronze to celebrate its triumphs. Constantine’s triple-arched monument features reliefs and roundel materials taken from other monuments.

The Romans were not as concerned about conserving the available natural resources; they were concerned with the economic and ideological effects of recycling art. The pieces that were taken and reused in a new context were referred to as spolia, the Latin term for ‘spoils of war.’

‘It can be a message of domination or of respect for the older piece of art,’ Costello said.

Costello said the issue for art historians and archaeologists is whether ‘there is an intentional message here or just the practicality of the reuse.’

The Art of Recycling Contest highlights the message of promoting the UH Green initiative and conserving environmental resources.

Whether the artists’ metal medium is bronze or aluminum, Costello said, ‘Reuse it and make it into something that does have meaning.’

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