Student Designers Help to Inspire Recycling in Grand Teton National Park

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Date: July 10, 2017
Contact: Denise Germann, 307 739 3393

Grand Teton National Park, in partnership with Jackson Hole Public Art, Teton County School District and Subaru of America, are hosting an event to celebrate a newly created and innovative art exhibit about recycling in the park. The public event will be Thursday, July 13, 5-7 p.m. at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose, Wyoming. 
The event will include a presentation and reception on the terrace of the visitor center, recognizing two public art projects, “STREAM” and “Mountain Recycling Bin” that will be on display at the visitor center through July 30. The art was created, designed, and implemented by local high school students under the leadership of Jackson Hole Public Art’s professional artist-on-staff Bland Hoke and funded by Subaru of America, Inc.
“STREAM” (Science, Technology, Recycling, Engineering, Arts, and Math) is a large scale project that is 25 feet high by 45 feet long, and includes shimmering trout coated with recycled materials and a flowing stream made of recycled water bottles. The largest fish is six feet long with recycled pieces of aluminum from soda cans as the shiny scales. The project visualizes the 2016 recycling diversion rate in the park. The smaller display inside the visitor center depicts the amount of plastic and aluminum cans currently being collected in the park for recycling, while the larger display on the terrace represents materials that are going to landfills rather than being recycled.
“Mountain Recycling Bin” is fabricated out of steel in the shape of three Teton peaks, each with a clear window that displays three commonly collected recycled materials; glass, aluminum and #1 plastic. To address the problem of contamination by mixing materials, the students chose to showcase the recycled materials in an engaging way. Using hammers and blenders, they processed glass, plastic and aluminum into different sized particles and filled a container with the smallest particles on the bottom and recognizable recycled materials at the top of the mountain. The result depicts geologic time and the compression of material. The design solves the challenge of communicating how to properly recycle across languages by showing what materials can be recycled.
The overarching goal of the installations is to improve the park’s waste diversion rate and facilitate easier collection, while communicating to a diverse audience that recycling can be fun. Over 100,000 visitors will see the temporary artwork and learn more about recycling. 
The project took several months to realize. Starting in October 2016, students conducted research, participated in site visits, and held stakeholder interviews. After the first phase, Bland Hoke taught students the Stanford University’s Design Thinking Process to evolve their concepts into solutions that ranged from practical to conceptual. The students then created prototypes and tested various solutions, culminating in the development of highly innovative final design concepts. In March 2017, eight student teams presented their concepts to a panel of Grand Teton National Park, Subaru and National Parks Conservation Association staff that selected two final projects to build. Students then spent the final months of school fabricating their designs with professional guidance from Hoke in order to achieve a high level of quality and ensure that local engineering standards were met. 
The creative partnership equipped students with in-depth knowledge of the waste stream in the National Park and Teton County, and engaged students as ambassadors of the park. The students were empowered to use art, design and technology to address current issues in a proactive manner, as well as get introduced to a variety of professions. 
Grand Teton National Park is one of three national parks working with Subaru of America on a Zero Landfill Initiative. Through this initiative, Subaru is sharing its knowledge of zero landfill practices with the national parks and working towards a goal of significantly reducing waste going into landfills.
Note: Participating student quotes
“My favorite thing about this project is that I am making something that revolves around art and design instead of my first idea of just making a different type of recycling bin. I’ve started thinking outside the box and have found a way to show how recycling can be turned into a very fun and alluring piece of art. It shows the public that the materials they recycle can be used to create something that you wouldn’t expect.”
– Raegin, Student at Jackson Hole High School
“Our favorite thing about this project is how it makes people think about and understand that they can make a choice when they go and recycle their materials in the park.” – Ashley, Vinny, Gage, Gus, Students at Jackson Hole High School
For more information about the partners in this project, please visit:
Jackson Hole Public Art                   
Subaru of America, Inc.                    
Jackson High School Fabrication Lab  

Last updated: July 13, 2017

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