Student uses grant for community art project with recycled bicycles
June 8, 2009
Bicycles, or at least parts of bicycles, popped up in unexpected locations all over campus the last few weeks of the semester. Some closely resembled their former life as a mode of transportation, while others were transformed almost beyond recognition. A brightly colored pinwheel created from bicycle gears and an old street sign, a table for "tandem dining" for two, bike locks squirming out of tangled bicycles, brightly colored bike parts hanging from trees, and a painted bicycle that people rode around campus were just a few of the sculptures from Bikes, Recycled organized by Molly (Mary) Lohman '09.
The idea behind this project was to expand the realm of creativity on campus and to celebrate the role bicycles play in people's lives. Bicycles are a mode of transportation and also a way to get outside, something that people here on campus and in Vermont really value, says Lohman.
To get this project off the ground, Lohman applied for a grant from the David S. Stone '74 Tree House Fund, which supports creative student projects that benefit Middlebury students, the environment, and the community. Public Safety donated the bikes and bike parts used for this project. They were left over from the Bike Shop sale in early April. One bicycle, it's wheels all crumpled together, appeared to have been crushed by a snowplow, and others were missing wheels and seats. There was also a bicycle that Public Safety has notoriously picked up year after year. No matter how many people they give the bike away to, it always ends up abandoned at the end of each summer.
A Spanish major with a focus in premed, Lohman has a deep love for creative expression, but after taking one studio art class her freshman year, she decided that drawing was not for her. Inspiration for Bikes, Recycled came from a class she took in the theatre department, in which students from all different backgrounds produced works of art that didn't necessarily fit the typical artistic model. This experience led her to expand on this concept for her own project-she invited all different types of people to participate in a community art project.
Lohman hoped that her project would prompt students to create something outside the focus of their studies and foster their own creativity. "Anyone can be an artist," says Lohman. "I think that sometimes gets forgotten on the Middlebury campus. Art gets segregated to the arts building or the theatre building. And students get caught up in their studies as well." Middlebury community members were also invited to participate. Classes of elementary school students, people from the local radio station, and local artists also created works for Bikes, Recycled.