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Swem art installation showcases College's DOTs

Over the past three months, many students, faculty, and staff at William & Mary have decided to “Do One Thing” for sustainability. All of those single deeds are now on display in one place, showing the power of individual decisions to create larger positive change at the College.

In order to highlight the success of the Do One Thing (or DOT) Campaign, the College's Committee on Sustainability awarded a green fees grant to two art department classes to showcase those DOTs in a sculptural installation in Swem Library. Professor Elizabeth Mead's Sculpture and the Environment class and Professor Ed Pease's Advanced Architecture classes collaborated on the project, which highlights the thousands of DOTs the College community has pledged over the past few months.

The final sculpture features multiple clear human figures attached to a web of blue paper DOTs, which hang from the ceiling overhead. “We wanted to show that we always carry our environment with us,” which led to the decision to make the figures transparent, said Ashley Pierce '10, a member of the Sculpture and the Environment class. “We also wanted to show that lots of little actions together can have a much larger impact, which is why we connected all of the DOTs to make the large overhead canopy.”

The DOT Campaign started in the Mason School of Business in the fall, and expanded to the rest of the College over the course of the spring 2010 semester. By April, the official DOT Facebook page had almost 1,500 fans, with hundreds of DOTs contributed both online and on paper.

The DOTs cover a wide range of cultural, social, economic, and environmental issues, from cutting paper & disposable product use to improving exercise habits, and came from all sectors of the College. Administrators and alumni chipped in as well. President Reveley pledged to use non-disposable coffee mugs, and former U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Comey '82 pledged to walk instead of taking the elevator – and to trade in his S.U.V. for a hybrid vehicle.

Professors Mead and Pease were excited to hear about the campaign, and saw an opportunity for a creative partnership. “Elizabeth and I have talked frequently about opportunities for our classes to collaborate on a project,” said Pease.  “When she told me about the grant for the DOT project, it seemed perfect.”

Mead's class, in particular, was suited to taking on the DOT showcase project.  “My advanced sculpture class focuses specifically on the environment,” she said. “The problems in the class are designed to allow students to address the environment from an empirical standpoint, use natural materials to build their forms, create an interaction or intervention with nature, or even to use traditional materials and processes to discuss contemporary environmental issues.”

“The profession of architecture has fully embraced the concept of sustainability,” said Pease, agreeing with Mead on the importance of sustainability in his curriculum. “Most architects don't really talk about sustainability as a separate issue--it's just how you design.”

The students involved with the project are happy with the final product, and hope to see its lessons, and those of the DOT campaign, spread further across campus.

“This installation is about the collaborative impact on the global environment through only one action,” said Katherine McGuire '10,  a member of Mead's class.

Natalie Rogers '10 agrees. When asked how she hopes College community members would react to the installation, she said, “I hope they are curious enough to take a closer look; it's always a great feeling when people ask, 'How'd they do that?'”