Eye opening experience

Published 9:21 pm Thursday, September 8, 2011

Taiwei Wang puts the finishing touches on the Rural Studio class project Wednesday. The group used scrap metal and other items to create a cow as part of its farm-themed project. -- Rick Couch

Auburn University Rural Studios students took part in a different kind of farm work in Selma Wednesday.

The students, with help from local artist Charlie Lucas, used things ordinarily classified as household waste, to create farm animals. Wednesday, the group worked together to produce a cow.

The project, third year Rural Studios professor Elana Barthel said, is part of a new program designed to show students items that are thrown away can often serve another purpose.

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“This year we started a workshop that is called ‘We Are What We Waste’ and it allows them to do a self-portrait on what they waste,” she said. “They look at food, plastic, gasoline and water. They look at the whole process.”

The group had two workshops, one hosted in Selma. Barthel said the group always enjoys its time with Lucas.

“We really appreciate his work, his vision, and the imagination behind what he does,” she said.

When students arrived, Lucas opened a “junk box” and the students were challenged to create something from what was available. They chose to create a farm and used the box and tools to create a recycled cow.

Hosting the students, Lucas said, is always exciting.

“I’m always working on a project with some kids,” he said. “I love the young minds, to see them all working together to help one another, it’s great to see.”

The program, student Jeff Bak said, was enlightening. It was amazing, he said, to watch a box of junk come to life through the efforts of the students.

“Once we started grabbing materials it all started coming together,” he said. “We started working with different materials and learning more.

“It really opened our eyes to what can happen with waste and how we can use it in different ways. It was really neat.”

The experience, Barthel said, was more than just an educational experience. It is also designed to make students look at their everyday lives.

“It’s to provoke the students to look at what they waste and how they can waste less, recycle more and reuse more,” she said.

“They learn to reuse and then recycle.”
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