As a way of investigating sustainability, Ferris architecture professor Lauren Leibler assigned her Interior Architecture class to create an installation from everyday objects.
What they did was work their way into Grand Rapids’ internationally renowned art festival.
Liebler’s class deliberated for a while on what everyday object to use, before deciding upon the plastic shopping bag.
The students then asked themselves, according to team member and Ferris alum Anthony Amato, “How can we use this differently? How can we manipulate this element?”
Those decisions would prove to be the easy part of the process. They would then spend weeks weaving the bags together into a hanging, house-like installation standing nine-feet high.
“I know most of us were [working] from nine at night to two or three in the morning… at least two or three days out of the week,” Amato said.
When asked how many hours total, he said there were some disagreements on the final total, although he did give his own estimate.
“Four week project… at least 120 hours, definitely more. It all seemed to blur together,” Amato said.
Evan Weaver, another former team member and now Ferris alum, also touched on all of the work that went into the project and how there were relatively few bumps in the road.
“From the beginning, we had a clear design idea and goal, which helped to keep things moving forward because everyone understood what needed to be done,” Weaver said.
For the students, the most worrisome part was waiting to find out if the installation would actually be accepted by ArtPrize.
Western Michigan University eventually contacted Liebler about displaying their piece at the university’s Grand Rapids location.
“The curator contacted me, and she said ‘we have a large space that would accommodate your piece and we would love to include it,”’ Liebler said.
Liebler, Weaver and Amato went down to install the piece, which had been designed to collapse in such a way that it could be transported. Now that the piece is up and ArtPrize is almost over, all that’s left to do is reflect.
“[WMU] held a reception for all of the artists – we’re not the only artists in the space, there are several others – and a few of the students went to the reception,” Liebler said. “It was neat for the students to see the reward at the end of the tunnel.”
Weaver reflected on his ownexperience.
“Knowing that it is on display for all to see is really exciting for me,” Weaver said. “The hands-on aspect of installing the piece was exciting, to finally see this project all the way through and make it to the destination we had hoped for from the beginning.”
Amato thought of the future, in hopes others would follow his and his classmates’ lead.
“We’re a bunch of architecture students who wove together some plastic bags to make art. You can be a biology major or anything and submit to ArtPrize,” Amato said.