April 18 and 19 was a great success for many students, especially due to the diverse presentations at this year’s Celebration of Student Scholarship. Just like other students, we have been looking forward to showcasing our work since we started creating it a few months ago.
For our main ceramics project in Art and Environmental Activism, we decided to foster increased awareness of students, faculty and especially administration of the sustainability efforts at Concordia, or lack thereof. While there have certainly been efforts that have increased our campus’ sustainability, many of the efforts are insignificant and misguided. These efforts have all been funded by investments in oil, as well as from alumni who work for unsustainable businesses and follow unsustainable practices. The majority of the time, projects seem to be started due to the fact that they will save money or will give Concordia an improved reputation, and not to save our world. Concordia cannot preach about sustainability efforts on campus when they have been so insignificant and misguided, and there is a long way to go.
We knew that some people would be offended by our artwork, “Irresponsibly Engaged in the World,” but that was exactly our point. To be an environmental activist, we need to speak up and alarm people to get a message across. We understand that some messages can be unpleasant, but the actions taken against our piece were disrespectful. Instead of feeling proud of our art when walking into the art exhibit, “From the Earth,” we experienced incomprehensible shock. For a piece that we worked on for months and an artist statement that we fought to be published, it was frustrating to have the meaning our art piece, indicated in our artist statement, forcefully changed by the gallery hosts without our knowledge. Not only was this statement rewritten, but we believe the message was completely changed. Our names were placed on a statement that we do not believe in, nor did we write.
As students we are taught to not put false information in our assignments, so we wonder why it was done by superiors at an institution where it is frowned upon. The actions taken upon our artwork and statement were not only disrespectful, but the censoring of our art and its message was outrageous. It should not have happened, and if we have anything to say about it, it won’t happen again.
This letter was submitted by Sadie Fliegel and Sarah Vlasak, both members of Concordia class of 2013.
Original Statement for
Celebration of Student Scholarship Presentation:
“Throughout our 4 years at Concordia, we cannot begin to count the number of times we have discussed BREWing in the classroom and seminar setting. We cannot count the number of times we have written a paper about BREWing. We can, however, easily count the number of times we have witnessed and participated in BREWing.
While Concordia College has taken many steps towards a more sustainable campus, the steps have often been insignificant and misguided. Most of all, such sustainable steps have been founded on investments in oil, and donations from alum of environmentally harmful businesses. Our piece conveys this message through the bad and the worst of Concordia, seen on each side of the globe.
Join the collective movement for Concordia College to act on what it preaches and bring sustainability to the forefront of our school’s mission to be responsibly engaged in the world. If we can’t be responsible at our campus level, what irresponsibility are we engaging in at the global level?”
“In the context of their belief that Concordia College has been minimally involved in environmental efficiency, Vlasak and Fliegel reflect on the concept of BREWing, which has been implemented into the curriculum over their college career.
The artists’ intent is to convey their belief that sustainability and global engagement are responsibilities that Concordia College should deem as an integral part of its mission. It shows that the lack of environmental awareness has global effects.