Quick Center hosts eco-friendly exhibit

By Liam McGurl

[Images courtesy of Caitlyn Morral] 

The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts will be hosting an eco-friendly exhibition through next fall, calling on visitors to think about their part in the future of our planet.

“Green Revolution,” geared towards Bonaventure’s K-12 summer program, discusses avenues for minimized carbon footprints and heightened conservation of reusable materials, offering practical advice on ways to “reduce, reuse and recycle.”

Sean Conklin, the assistant curator of the Quick Center, said the exhibition was offered by Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), which created basic prototypes for the galleries’ educational panels, sent electronically to reduce carbon footprints.  Conklin added that the visual aspects of the panels were created by the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago and its Black Creativity Council.

Conklin said that, while the exhibition is fairly “science focused,” he wanted to incorporate artistic pieces for its incentive, too.

One artistic piece featured is a mock landfill, providing statistics and general information on small, cardboard cutouts.  Some facts are targeted at specific components of the landfill, such as, “…this newspaper will take 2 to 4 weeks to decompose depending on weather conditions,” while others are random, stating, “recycling one aluminum can = energy for three hours of TV.”

Conklin said the exhibition’s homemade greenhouse, composed of water bottles added to a wooden structure, took nearly a semester to put together.

“We made [the greenhouse] out of water bottles on campus,” he said. “It was essentially any water bottle we could find. We kept taking them from about December through now to build this greenhouse—and this is not new. Apparently, people in England and a lot of people in South Africa have been doing the exact same thing to create these greenhouses, so we’ve kind of discussed how they’re using these bottles in interesting ways.”

The homemade greenhouse composed of water bottles.

Inside the greenhouse, students can “plant a seedling to take home,” with planting instructions and necessary materials free for their use.

Conklin said that, since the exhibition is geared towards a younger audience, it was imperative to add hands-on elements throughout the gallery.

One portion, he said, provides Pinterest-type, do-it-yourself (DIY) ideas on how to turn often disposed-of items into useful utensils, which also provides educational information on what can and cannot be recycled.

“You can cut a milk jug to make a dustpan or a shovel, use old books as bookshelves [and] use CDs and DVDs as coasters…” he said.

Conklin added that this specific portion had been dubbed the “make and take” section, as it will feature a new eco-focused theme every few weeks, which participants can then use as inspiration for a DIY-style project.  The current theme deals with the plastic-induced destruction of sea life.  The accompanying project consists of plastic bottle aquariums.

While the exhibition is still open to the Bonaventure community, Conklin said its programming is mainly focused on the students of six counties who participate in the summer program.  Conklin added that five of the six counties fall under the poverty line.

“It’s a way to extend classroom capabilities,” he said. “[Schools] aren’t necessarily going to be able to buy eight science kits to talk about sustainable, renewable energy, but they can come here, and we have eight science kits, and they can use them as one of their projects.  They can learn about carbon footprints with our computer system, as opposed to having to purchase those things through [their] school.”

Inside the greenhouse students can plant seedlings to take home.

Conklin added that the Quick Center has been a long-standing artistic outlet for local elementary and high school students, too.

“We like to connect in the arts,” he said. “I think arts is usually the first thing to be cut from a budget…they always leave here with an art project or some type of art activity.”

At the end of the day, Conklin said that giving students a full education is the Quick Center’s goal.

“Our programming is making these students more well-rounded individuals,” he said. “It’s just a different experience for the students. It’s not structured; it’s not module-based. It’s very open access, you learn based on the different tour styles and the different activities and it’s just an add-on to your education.”

The exhibition, located in the Quick Center’s Paul W. Beltz gallery, is open to the general public free of charge. Gallery hours run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

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