'Sustainability' | Game Changer

11/21/2013 | Amy Tibbals

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I’m just as tired as you are of hearing the word 'sustainability'. The word is overused. Period. Especially when paired with fine words/phrases such as 'initiatives,' 'in the workplace,' or [the author’s personal favorite] 'revolution'. The word has become so pedestrian that it's been robbed of all meaning, and has instead taken on an existence whose sole purpose is to make me cringe. It seems that any enterprise seeking approval uses this very loose and clarity-lacking lexicon as the perfect prefix for any activity it’s engaged in. It’s sad, but the sustainable movement is now akin to the term 'natural' stamped blatantly on a food product -- little more than a marketing tool.

Enter the University of Utah’s Department of Art and Art History [applause]. Their Exploring Sustainability exhibit, now featured at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, has given me fresh faith in the word. Turns out, I like it when coupled with 'creativity'. It has a new shape to it and speaks to the courageous efforts of people around this city who are creating a way of life that is not only more survivable, but more satisfying, as well. The exhibition, featuring work from the latest crop of graphic design students, is intended to stimulate further dialogue among the University and local communities about the ecological problems created by manufacturing processes, consumption, and waste disposal, as well as the ways in which sustainable design practices can mitigate the issues. This is where it gets good, dear reader → designers can bring about positive social change by applying knowledge of sustainable practices to the work they create, the message they visually communicate, and the clients they choose to support through their work. Mmm?

This is where is gets really good → projects on view are amazing and showcase a number of different approaches, including an installation of breathing masks intended to educate the viewers about air pollution in Utah; a floor cloth created from re-purposed billboard vinyl; and an installation about a student-service project for the nonprofit Wasatch Community Gardens, in which students have re-conceptualized an annual event related to urban gardening. We can also all COLLECTIVELY participate in the interactive projects on display by providing our input on and attitudes about practices related to sustainability. If you want to get involved, this be the place. Click the links below for more info.

EXPLORING SUSTAINABILITY | September 13, 2013 through July 28, 2014 | Utah Museum of Fine Arts

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