Art That Holds Water

Lower School and Middle School students and visual arts teachers created eco-friendly art to raise awareness of the environmental impact of plastics.

In the United States, 1,500 single-use plastic water bottles are thrown away every second. In an effort to raise awareness of the issue, Lower School and Middle School students, along with visual arts teachers, joined forces to create an eco-art sculpture out of 1,500 water bottles. They were assisted by Milwaukee environmental artist Melanie Ariens, who helped the teachers design the sculpture.

“The inspiration behind the design was a single, large bottle pouring out ‘water’ that was constructed from individual bottles,” said Christina Dresang, Lower School art teacher. “We wanted to show the footprint of exactly how large 1,500 bottles was, so that viewers could get a true visual of how many single-use plastic bottles are disposed of every second in the United States alone.”

The sculpture challenged students to think critically and creatively about the impact of plastics in our world. It is made entirely out of recycled materials, including soda syrup barrels from Lakefront Brewery and recycled palette wrap from Trader Joes. It traveled to various locations throughout Milwaukee in May and June and will continue throughout the summer. It was specifically designed so that it can be dismantled and moved, as well as recycled, at the end of its tour.

“The visual arts teachers and I loved creating art with students to raise awareness of single-use plastics and water consumption,” said Sarah Markwald, Middle Schools art teacher and Fine Arts Department co-chair. “This sculpture has the capacity to make meaningful changes at USM and in our broader community.”

View the sculpture this summer:

July 1–17
Urban Ecology Center, Riverside Park

July 21–25
Schlitz Audubon Center

Aug. 9–11
Catalano Square, Historic Third Ward

Aug. 26–Sept. 20
Werner Family Art Gallery at University School of Milwaukee

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