Feature: Design students use unconventional materials to create mural

The Newtonite

by Maddie Griswold
Inspired by an initiative by last year’s Major II and III students, Design and Visual Communications set out to make a statement about recycling and environmental consciousness.
Using recycled, flattened soda cans, the class created a mural to enhance the hallway outside of the room.
Drawing from the whimsical style of illustrations in the famous Seuss classic Oh The Places You’ll Go, the Design and Visual Communications classes conceptualized a circular design pattern with rings of different colors and sizes.
The unique part of the project itself came not only in the finished product, but also in the process of creation. During the course of the ’11 to ’12 year, 1,375 individual cans were collected by the students of the by the three major classes as well as exploratory courses. The bulk of the work completed last year consisted of “cleaning and washing out, crushing and collaging the cans, as well as making the actual design,” according to Design teacher Sue Brooks.
Considered trash to most, students sorted the cans by style and design after collection.
Then, after the plans were finalized, the students worked together to hammer down the cans to a thin piece of metal before they were ready to assemble. The thin metal slices were then collaged by the class onto 13 pieces of canvas, and transformed into the mural that hangs in the art hallway today.
“It’s really eye-catching, and the best part is how it sparkles,” Brooks commented, glowing. “What it reminds me of is one of those open marketplaces with a lot of fruits and vegetables because of all the bright colors.”
The students utilized these soda cans and their artistic mindset to create something beautiful: cans that would have otherwise been tossed into a garbage heap and added to the ever-growing mass of human pollution. The deeper message of environmental consciousness set this massive project apart from the rest, in visual presentation as well as significance.
Design and Visual Communications instructs students in how to “create design concepts, sketches and eventually bring designs to life on the computer using programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Flash,” according to the course website. It gives students a chance to experience the design process for themselves, and learn the advantages to marketing goals in commercial design. But Brooks makes it clear that there is more to the class than the course book describes.
“It is about learning to be artistic thinkers and innovators,” she said with a smile. “Thinker, artist and innovator, I try to encourage and nurture my students into becoming all three.”
Read this column about why there should be more art murals at this school