Students were given a list of words and needed to select one word from which to create a sculpture.
In her sculpture Life Destroys Life, Madison Wu ’21 uses the word despondency to explore the environmental changes that are happening with our wildlife and in our oceans. By using trash and discarded items to create her sculpture, Madison uses the very items choking our environment to materialize her notions of loss.
“When doing this project, one of the words was despondency. When I saw this word, I thought about sea-life and how my favorite animal (the turtle) is getting harmed. This is why I wanted to sculpt a scenario of what the turtle might look like due to the pollution and acidification in the ocean. The turtle is wrapped and covered in trash to represent all the waste that gets thrown into the ocean.
“I wanted to symbolically exaggerate what the ocean could look like if we don’t do something to fix the pollution in the ocean. Another unique part of my sculpture is the seaweed, made from trash bags.
“The trash bag is tinted into a black color to resemble dirty seawater. By doing this, I think it emphasizes that the ocean is changing as well as harming sea life,” Madison Wu ’21.
Maxine Galvan ’21 used the word ameliorate to explore the living hope in a maelstrom of despair. The deadening tree made of wire forms a gyre of uncertainty. At the core of this deadening tree, new life emerges in the form of blooming flowers and the possibility of hope.
“When looking at the word ameliorate, I thought of something growing to improve. Which led me to think about nature, such as trees and flowers. The thought of life coming from death intrigued me and I wanted to represent that in my sculpture. In the middle of anything terrible, there is always something hopeful trying to come out. Something I always try to remember is that in the midst of sadness and loss of optimism, there is always something good and beautiful trying to break through,” said Maxine.
These projects remind us of the confluence of the arts and the way words, images, and imagination shape the type of artistic vision we find in sculpture and literature.
Taking a word, creating a piece of art, and explaining its social and psychological relevance offers something to the world to consider, explore, and learn from.