Artists for the Earth

The Art of Sustainability at Mount Holyoke College

Earth Day Network’s MobilizeU campaign is an international movement of concerned and active university students mobilizing their campuses. This Earth Day, Mount Holyoke College participated by inviting artist Jay Mead to campus. In the many challenges we face in the future, creativity is at the forefront for helping us understand and develop solutions for a healthier planet. MobilizeU taps into students’ power as leaders to facilitate social and environmental action. Jay undertook this task by leading a workshop for Professor Serin Houston’s “Sense of Place, Sense of Planet” Geography seminar. Using natural materials, such as mud, seeds, grasses, bark, wild scallions, leaves, sticks, rocks, acorns, trees, water, flowers, and even snow, the students constructed mini art installations. The creativity needed for a sustainable people and planet is an art form, which encourages new methods of thinking. Students were able to make connection between their artwork and their experiences. That evening Jay presented a public talk on “The Art of Sustainability.” He discussed his time spent at eco-village, “Cobb Hill,” and how sustainability influences the art he creates. Sustainability needs to flow from the heart and be so integrated into the way humans live that we no longer have to use the word. Art provides a gateway to this. Jay also facilitated a community workshop at Mount Holyoke Art Museum. Using hundreds of pounds of clay, car tires, recycled styro-foam, and papier mache, participants collectively shaped the clay into two giant heads, “The Spirits of Sustainability.” One head is embraced by a series of hands to exemplify Community and the other head symbolizes Nature with figures, such as starfish, a butterfly, a flower, and the sun. On Friday, April 24th as a part of Mount Holyoke’s Pangy Day (a celebration of spring, the college, and the earth) the masks were painted and collaged by students. Jay Mead, contributing blogger