Students and professional artists unveil installation about sustainability in NU library


Sean Su/Daily Senior Staffer

The “Opening Doors” art installation opened in the South Tower of University Library on Friday. The installation features murals on four recycled doors designed by students and artists.

Rachel Holtzman, Reporter


“Opening Doors,” an art installation centered around sustainability, was unveiled in Level One of the South Tower of University Library on Friday. The project involved both Evanston artists and NU students.

The artwork will be on display from now until the end of summer 2015. Over the past year, students and artists working on the project created murals on four recycled doors, using discarded items to talk about the need for sustainability and people’s disconnect from the world around them.

“I don’t think we saw it as a political thing,” McCormick junior Agnes Wang said. “There are a lot of ads to be sustainable around campus that are very direct, and I think having an art installation is more subtle. When students look at it, they can reflect on their own ideas about sustainability instead of being preached at.”

The installation is the result of a year of work for Wang and Weinberg junior Emery Weinstein.

The two met while working on the Associated Student Government sustainability committee, Wang said. Because Wang is an engineering student and Weinstein is an artist, they decided to team up and combine their talents. Three of the doors were created by the professional artists, and Wang and Weinstein created the fourth.

“Each of the doors is a different commentary on commercialism, consumerism, sustainability, urban gardening, eating local and ways to create something beautiful out of something old,” Weinstein said. “I want people to stop and think before they throw something away and think of how they could use it in a creative way. It may be less convenient, but still purposeful, diverse and positive.”

She and Weinstein said they wanted to give the artists working on the project, Diana Berek, Alfonso Piloto Nieves Ruiz and Joyce Elias, as much freedom as possible within the topic of sustainability.

On one door, Nieves Ruiz mixed together dark clay and garbage to “try to show the mental garbage and spiritual disconnect we are exposed to every day,” he said in a summary of his display.

Other pieces include a painting of the Milky Way with stars covered by plane fuel fumes, a mixed media piece of butterflies being consumed by fire, a study of women’s magazines and graffiti, with some surrealist elements throughout the entire exhibit.

Elias, an Evanston artist who specializes in using recycled materials, created a multimedia piece on urban gardens.

“On the black and white side… it was supposed to be an empty lot, while the other side is very colorful and has some vegetables growing,” she said. “The idea is to have people plant urban gardens and take care of these spaces.”

Weinstein said the biggest struggle was finding funding, as her and Wang’s proposal was rejected from multiple venues. Almost all of their funding came straight out of their pockets, but they eventually received support and materials from the library, Home Depot and Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse.

Wang said the team also faced a few challenges installing the art. Wang and Weinstein wanted to show the doors in the library plaza but had to move them into the South Tower. They then had to make sure the pieces would actually stay in place.

“It’s hard to make free­standing doors stand up,” Elias said. “As we got closer and closer to the installation, we were all emailing back and forth. Most of us don’t have the carpentry tools to (make stands), so they contacted Home Depot to make stands for us, which solved the problem.”

Both Wang and Elias said they thought people who saw the installation at its opening on Friday were intrigued by it.

“The people that were there really enjoyed it,” Elias said. “People came up and asked us a lot of questions. They were very engaged, and I think that it’s nice that it’s going to be up for a while so many more people will see it.”

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