Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Thank you all so much for coming out last night + celebrating the remarkable work of the students!

It was a great turn out -- some pieces had as many as 9 bids on them. I think it is safe to say that this innovative course was a great success. It has whet my appetite for finding a way to improve upon it and expand it. Will you imagine for a moment with me what the potential is for such a course? Should it be given the opportunity to be not only a recurring course lasting an entire semester,  but one that starts cropping up at academic institutions around the world? Imagine each academic institution essentially adopting a waterway to maintain and protect by partnering students enrolled in such a course with local clean up organizations. Conducting a class clean up changes a fundamental aspect of cleaning up a river or water way - it becomes like a shopping spree for artifacts.

The impact of this type of course, should it be implemented internationally, could be quite substantial. We could substantially restrict the flow of toxic debris (plastic + otherwise) to our oceans and into our food chain, while teaching young people to re-evaluate their relationship to material on a level that stretches their creative muscles and opens their eyes to the world around them in a productive and healthy way. 

Sustainable practices in the arts can be fostered by academic institutions to have a huge positive impact on our environment.

We raised almost $1000 for the Friends of the Middle River from the 17 works created by the students, with roughly only 2 weeks of studio time. All these pieces were comprised of once thoroughly unloved, disregarded materials - that have now found homes and will never re-enter the waste stream. They have successfully transformed waste into art -- objects worthy of reflection and contemplation -- through their hard work and love. 

Here are some pics from last night:
Professor Paul Ryan explaining the course & introducing me.
Phoenix Down is so photogenic!

Everyone loved Sarah Webb's You Are What You Eat

Beth Hodges of the Staunton Augusta Arts Center was a wonderful hostess!

A lovely crowd!


  1. I thought this class was a hard class but I reallly learned a lot in this course .I did not realize how much I did not know about everyday things I'm using.I have a greater appreciation for this type of art by being in this class.

  2. yesterday was definitely a big opportunity for everyone who has never been involved in the bidding process. I enjoyed this experience. Thanks. I am also very excited my piece got sold.

  3. I really loved this class! It was a lot of work, but I learned so much about our environment and about ourselves. I enjoyed doing the river cleanup and absolutely loved the films. I think what would really make this class better would be to make ot a semester long, that way we have time to clean everything and still keep our overall visions for the work. Thank you so much Aurora! I had lots of fun!

  4. This class has taught me a lot about what we can do to help the environment, and has change my perspective in what we can do as a group of students and also individually. It was challenging class of course. Sometimes frustrating but I think the end results were worth the time and effort. I like my piece and everyone's pieces and I'm glad we raise almost $1000.00 together! :)!! It was a great experience overall!

  5. This class was such an eye-opener for me. The process of creating art out of waste that we removed from Lewis creek really struck home for me as I live in this area and walk along the creeks with friends, always hearing comments about how everybody wishes more people would take an intrest and help with the clean-ups that go on in the community. Although this class was very interesting and informative, I thought that it was quite overwhelming for a May Term class--a full semester to dedicate to intercepting the wastestream and creating sculptures would be better. With the time constraints, it was difficult to go as grand of a scale as one would have liked; however, cutting back had its benifits. All in all, I enjoyed the class and hope that the college will encompass more classes in sculpture.

  6. Overall, the class was fun and presented itself as a challenging course. I wish it would have been longer than 3 weeks, because then it would not have been as frustrating as it was to try and scramble pieces together to meet the deadline. Aurora is cool, but is also very tough at times. Teaching a class is hard work but she did a good job none the less. I would recommend this class to other students. It is a very inspiring class that allows you to see the world differently if you haven't already.

  7. I have learned so much during this class it is a bit overwhelming, but the key is to have hope and persistence. The worst part about this class was that we had such little time to actually make the pieces, every day was crunch time, you couldn't procrastinate. I was sick for one day with horrible allergies and it put me behind to the point I was in the studio till 3 am the morning before the projects were due. It was definitely not a class to be taken lightly, you know that when actually studio art majors struggled, but it was worth it in the end seeing everyone at the gallery, it really gave me hope that people really do care and hopefully it will spread.

  8. The thing I learned a lot from this class was paying attention to the products we buy and how the plastics inside could cause future harm.
    The only thing I liked the least was the cleaning process. It was overwhelming at some points!

  9. I learned so much about plastics, trash and how it causes irrevocable damage to our health and plant. Through the film screenings I was able to grasp the bigger picture of how I, as a consumer, can reduce the amount of waste that will eventually find itself polluting our oceans. The products I do choose to consume though can be used and recycled properly or as my personal experience has been, to turn it into art where it will never impact nature negatively yet be used to inform others what I have learned this may term.