Effort reinforces the importance of recycling

CORNELIUS — Students from Cornelius Elementary spent March 6 making a treasure out of trash.

Members of Judith Kidd’s third-grade art class joined Durham-based artist Bryant Holsenbeck to create a mandala using bottle caps, jar lids and other plastic recyclables.

An artist reception was held March 7 at the Cornelius Art Center to see the mandala, which was constructed by Holsenbeck, Cornelius Elementary students, fifth-graders from Woodlawn Elementary and other volunteers.

The exhibit, Markers of Our Lives, will be on display at the center through the end of April as part of the Cornelius Parks, Arts, Recreation and Culture Departments' Earth Day celebrations.

“It’s most important,” Holsenbeck said of having help to create the installation. “This is public art. It’s all about community participation."

She is an environmental artist who uses what most would consider trash to make art in an effort to make a statement about helping the environment and reducing waste. One of her signature pieces is to create room-size mandalas, a geometric design inspired by Hinduism and Buddhism. This creation took three days to make and encompasses hundreds of thousands of objects that Holsenbeck has been collecting for 10 years.

When asked by a student why she makes her mandalas so large, Holsenbeck said she hopes people will see how much stuff it takes to make one and hopes they “really think about recycling after seeing this.”

In addition to helping Holsenbeck make her mandala, the students have been making their own in classes.

“You make them with different shapes and colors,” said student Reagan McDowell. “There is a lot of detail. You have to be creative with it and can do a lot of things. There are no rules. It’s a lot of fun to put in different shapes.”

Theirs were made using paper and crayon, student Gissella Flynn said, but Holsenbeck’s teaches about reusing things.

“You should really save bottles,” she said. “If we have a lot of bottles, it will fill the land. We don’t have a lot of land. We should recycle to keep the environment clean.”

Student Hannah Edwards worries that the environment may become polluted and make a person cough or the animals may eat the trash and get sick.

If that wasn’t enough for why to recycle, take Veronika Bayzer’s approach — “You can make really cool stuff out of it."

Want to see the exhibit? Bryant Holsenbeck showcases three-dimensional structures made from recycled bottle caps at her exhibit, “Markers of Our Lives,” through April 30 at the Cornelius Arts Center, 19725 Oak St., Cornelius. Details: www.cornelius.org/parc or 704-896-8823.