SMC hosts interactive art festival for Earth Week

In a consumerist society where the focus is to buy the newest and best thing, pro-Earth activists remind us to conserve our resources. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. It's a phrase you've heard before a million times and it doesn't end there.

Celebrating "Thriving Thursday" during Earth Week, Santa Monica College's sustainable clubs worked in conjunction to host an art and culture festival on the main quad last Thursday.

The purpose of this event was to raise awareness about our carbon footprint with a focus on ways we can consume less and reuse more and this is done through art.

"There's this doom and gloom aspect when people think about conservation. We want to talk about the thriving aspect and the celebratory aspect of learning new methods of conserving and loving planet Earth," said Lauren Hollenstein of SMC's Sustainable Works.

All of the artwork at the event featured students work that reused or repurposed old goods to show how students can conserve.

Students painted on reclaimed wood to show their artistic expression. One was made from pallets and it will make its home in the Organic Learning Garden. Another one was made from an old headboard and the footboard was broken and it was turned into a bench from old plywood.

"We invited artists to express what conservation means to them through using items that normally become trash and turning them into works of art," said Hollenstein.

SMC'S own Associated Students Director of Sustainability Andrea Gonzalez helped plan as well as participated in the event. She submitted two works of art. The first one called "3 Minutes" was a collection of cigarette butts she found in three minutes in the smoker's area. "It's not to place blame or point fingers, but to help our students quit smoking and show where the cigarette butts are going and where the landfill is going," said Gonzalez.

Her second project "If It Was Only This Easy" depicted women from around the world collecting drinking water to take to their families and villages, crafted in the style of a water bottle. "In America people get their bottles delivered. In other countries women have to walk miles to pick up their drinking water," said Gonzalez. She used as an example how in India they have to pump their water from the soil in the ground, but in America it's as easy as going to the store.

Next to her station was the work of SMC Student Brea Peck, an art major. Her art consisted of items that were lying around her house that she put to good use. Using film negatives she had in a box and an umbrella skeleton that no longer worked, she sewed it all together. Her art represents the web of communication and follows the Global Initiative Theme: "Peace and Security: Managing Conflict and Violence in a Turbulent World."

The art festival extended its relevance to all cultures. Folklorico dancers from a local Apache tribe performed tribal dances to convey how sustainability and environmental issues affect this fringe population. In poverty-stricken areas, indigenous peoples are negatively impacted.

The dances were in the form of prayer giving gratitude and thanks to mother Earth. The Apache tribe's presence at the festival showed that environmental issues are universal and relevant to all of us.

Like Hollenstein said, "Sustainability is often seen as a white man's issue and a wealthy person's issue and it's not. We just want people to see creative ways that are really tangible and really accessible for them."

The art festival offered various fun ways for students to get involved. Inter-Club Council Vice Chair Courtney King headed up the t-shirt making table where she was asked to participate due to her time as a previous Crafting Club President. "We're decorating them in a way that people will wear them," she said.

Cutting the shirts up into cool crochet-like designs, King helped students create fashionable t-shirts out of old XL club t-shirts.

King delivered a message that really homed in on what the event was all about. "Being involved at SMC I feel like I can give back to my community and feel involved in projects larger than myself."

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