As students look around the lobby of Roaden University Center, they’ll notice a waterfall coming down the spiral staircase, courtesy of Bryant Holsenbeck, students and staff.
Holsenbeck makes art out of the everyday items people tend to throw away. The installation in the UC demonstrates how much plastic is used.
“The thing about plastic is, it’s not biodegradable… You make it, it’s here forever,” said Holsenbeck. “I think in this culture, we just think, ‘Okay, it disappears. It’s fine. We recycled it,’ but really, when you recycle it, it’s a one-time thing … it doesn’t become a bottle again. Like aluminum cans can become aluminum cans again, but this might become a T-shirt, might become a rug, might become a park bench, then you don’t recycle that.”
Plastic is made of petroleum – the same substance used to make gas for cars.
“Also, eventually, we’re going to run out. So why are we using this thing that we use once, all the time?” said Holsenbeck. “I just want people to see the quantity.”
Jeanne Brady, professor of fibers at the Appalachian Center for Craft, helped invite Holsenbeck.
"I knew that she was really good at engaging people with the kind of work that she does … we also wanted to have an artist that was dealing with a concern about how much waste we create in this country, and we also knew that Tech had a recycling program,” said Brady.
Brady also said the UC would be the best spot for the installation because everyone would see it and realize how much plastic they use and see what art could be made of it.
Kelsey Wiskirchen, artist in residence in the fiber studio at the Craft Center, helped gather the bottles needed for the installation.
“It’s been an entire semester-long project in terms of … collecting bottles and a lot of people on campus have been involved,” said Wiskirchen. “The community is really engaged with Bryant while she’s here, but the community has also been really engaged the whole semester in preparing for her to come.”
Jim Dillon, a facilities associate in the grounds, roads and walks department on campus, provided the majority of the bottles used in the installation.
Many students helped Holsenbeck build the installation, which is scheduled to be finished either Thursday or Friday. The installation will be on display in the UC through Window on the World April 10 and 11.
When the installation is taken down, the bottles will be recycled.