U Students Beg for Environmental Change


Christopher Samuels

(Photo by Chris Samuels)

(Photo by Chris Samuels)
(Photo by Chris Samuels)

Six U students will be panhandling this week, but they won’t be asking for money.

The Art, Action and Environment class is using their final project to raise awareness about environmental issues. Wendy Wischer, associate professor of sculpture intermedia, who is leading the course, said the goal is to make people look at the earth and its problems — such as air pollution — in a new way.

“Air quality is not something people have never heard of, but by changing the format, that’s where the artwork can enhance or facilitate a new view on an existing issue,” she said. “It’s a new way of perceiving.”

In the fashion of panhandling, students held signs around campus Monday with images of air, water and nature, calling the movement “Begging for Change.” They also handed out small fliers that encouraged students to “rethink, reconnect and rejuvenate” and visit their website ecoart.art.utah.edu to donate.

Sabrina Stein, a freshman in parks, recreation and tourism who took the class, said the posters drew in students who wanted to learn more.

“We want them to reflect on their relationship with the environment and the issues in the Salt Lake area,” she said.

Sloan Russel, a senior in marketing, is another student in the class. He said learning about the issues this year made him more appreciative of the environment. Now he wants others to come to the same understanding.

“Earth and Mother Nature are very important to all of us,” he said.

The students were on campus Monday, but they will be bringing their project to the metropolitan area on Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. along several 400 South locations.

Wischer said this is the first time the class has been offered at the U. She came up with the idea after noticing many landscape art pieces in Utah, such as the Spiral Jetty and the Sun Tunnels. Both earthworks are located in Box Elder County.

“This makes Utah a prime place for researching environmental issues and how they can be expressed or developed through artwork,” she said. “Art has the ability to connect with people on an emotional level, on an abstract level — a level that goes beyond language and beyond something concrete.”

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