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Sculpture class raises awareness of plastic, water usage, conservation

Joe McMahon, sophomore double-majoring in earth science policy and sculpture (B.F.A.), was part of the mobile installation "Plastic Dreadnaught" on April 22, 2015 (Earth Day).
May 7, 2015

On Earth Day, April 22, Penn State School of Visual Arts (SoVA) assistant professor Shannon Goff and students in her “Pulp Fictions” sculpture special topics course put the spotlight on plastic through a mobile installation, “Plastic Dreadnaught,” made primarily of plastic bottles and bags collected on campus over the past two weeks. The installation, located outside the HUB-Robeson Center, was part of the 2015 Water Symposium organized by the Penn State Institutes of Energy and Environment. As part of the event, Goff and her students gave away more than 350 succulents in recycled bottles repurposed into mini greenhouses. The goal was to raise awareness of both plastic and water usage, and conservation through exchange.

“Bringing the ‘Plastic Dreadnaught’ to the HUB on Earth Day was an incredible opportunity. It served to expose the rest of campus to SoVA, and what we do and how we operate. The class members and I were able to interface with students from many other disciplines, which I think is perhaps the most important,” said Goff. “The event truly became about exchange and awareness. Artists are not always and only creating objects for the white cube environment. ‘Pulp Fictions’ hopes to engage a larger sphere and use art as a vehicle to create events, foster community and bring awareness to pertinent issues, thus operating as an agent of change.”

Goff developed the “Pulp Fictions” special topics course in order to repurpose, transform and innovate at an ambitious scale using materials drawn from Penn State’s recycling program. “Everyday detritus serves as a springboard for the creation of objects, installations, experiences and awareness,” she explained.

Students in the spring 2015 “Pulp Fictions” course include Zach Brown, David Cuatlacuatl, Chia Yen Gan, Abigail Grix, Naomi Grix, Rosemary Hyp, Orly Mayer, Colin McGarry, Joe McMahon, Taylor Nyman and Lydia Ventrelli.

Goff’s collaborators for the “Plastic Dreadnaught” and mini greenhouse giveaway included Al Matyasovsky, Brian Macafee, Brian Phiel, Katie Rountree and Alex Gentry.

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