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Sustainability students learn through art

The Art of Sustainability’s Class mural hangs in the Auditorium in Northside Hall while it is being worked on. PHOTO/Brandon Krutsch

The Art of Sustainability’s Class mural hangs in the Auditorium in Northside Hall while it is being worked on. PHOTO/Brandon Krutsch

By: ALICIA FLORES
Staff Writer
aaflores@umail.iu.edu

Students in Professor Edwin Joseph’s “The Art of Sustainability” class at IU South Bend are working on a mural for the new location of Green Sense Farms.

When finished the 8 by 32 foot mural will have a home in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, China, sometime after this fall semester concludes.

“The way I look at sustainability is by looking at it as an art itself. By looking at sustainability as an art it helps students express themselves in a particular way,” said Joseph.

One of Joseph’s goals is helping the student’s engage in creative processing and sharing of information.

“We take a topic and try to express that as a story. We look at environmental issues, social issues and economic challenges,” said Joseph.

While the class does look at agriculture throughout the world their main focus for this semester is studying the changes agriculture has faced over time in China.

The students conducted extensive research for about a month and a half prior to the painting of the mural.

“They had to look at physical aspects, the environment and we had to talk a lot about the Chinese culture to see what would be acceptable imagery on a mural,” said Joseph.

A huge focus was taking a look at milestones—what has changed over time. The students looked at history, historical artifacts, important events, practices and identifying important people who may have changed the agriculture in China, said Joseph.

The mural depicts images the students felt were of key importance. One image depicts a breast strap harnessing system for horses that the Chinese designed while another shows a power water pump.

“As students paint it is not just painting and having fun, but they are actually learning about the history and innovation,” said Joseph.

While none of Joseph’s students have prior experience in art they have assistance from muralist, David Blodgett. This is the second year working with him.

“The muralist puts things into perspective. He is there to guide the process,” said Joseph. “With that kind of expression we need a person that helps us to engage the creative process and sharing of ideas.”

The mural has been done collaboratively with Blodgett working one on one with the students. They all have an equal say in what goes on the mural and Blodgett yields to their ideas, said Joseph.

“It is not just a pretty picture, it really has some important significance and I really like it because [the students] did their own research. Its going beautiful. I really enjoy it because the students feel intimidated at first but after working with David on that one on one basis you see them getting braver and braver, said Joseph.

“It is almost scary to have an 8 by 32 blank canvas in front of them so it’s so good to see that confidence building.”

Joseph plans to finish the mural within the next three weeks. The class will unveil the mural in Northside Hall with a ceremony, he said, though the exact date is pending.

Green Sense Farms CEO Robert Colangelo reached out to Joseph for a design for the new facility. Joseph has a partnership with Green Sense Farms in Portage, Indiana, where last year’s mural resides.

Joseph plans on doing another mural next year for Ivy Tech.

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