For Ashley Apodaca's Capstone project she was interested in exploring the use of artwork to communicate scientific principles. The project itself had two components, the first a piece of artwork and the second being her work with Shared.Futures.
For her sustainability capstone project, she was interested in exploring the use of artwork to communicate scientific principles. Science can be inaccessible to many because of jargon and other language barriers. This prevents communities from accessing information that is critical to their health and well-being. Her project itself had two components, the first a piece of artwork and the second being her work on Shared.Futures.
The objective of her artwork was to communicate the issue of microplastic pollution in the Rio Grande. Last semester she took part in a research project that looked at the amount of microplastics in the river. They found evidence of microplastics in the river, specifically fibers from synthetic clothing. For her artwork she spent around three months collecting plastic items that were going to be thrown away. She collected items such as plastic bags, single use cups and cutlery, old school supplies, and old children’s toys. For the base of her project, she used an old white board that was being thrown away. She then cut it into the shape of New Mexico and began the work of figuring out how to use all her trash. She ended up deciding to shred the plastic bags and used one of the children’s toys to make a river through the center of the white board. Then glued sand onto the bottom and added “litter”. She then painted the upper third blue and added a sun and a few clouds made of plastic bags. Wanting to represent the atmosphere, river, and soil which are places around the world that microplastics are found. It was important that the items were distinguishable in the piece. I wanted people to be able to look at the piece and be able to reflect on their own actions, whether that is seeing a Starbucks cup or recognizing one of the various brands in the plastic river.
For the second aspect of my project, She was an organizer of Shared.Futures, an Albuquerque based SciArt community. Every Tuesday over dinner, the other organizers and Ashley would meet to discuss and plan every aspect of this year’s cohort. We collaborated on promotional materials, chose the members of this year’s cohort, and planned the monthly cohort meetings. Individually, she worked on video editing and running the social media accounts, as well as doing odd jobs here and there like digitizing survey results and updating the website. To combine the two aspects of my project, she displayed her art piece, “Rio Plastico” as part of the Shared.Futures 2023 exhibit. Ashley installed the piece at Explora alongside a short SciArt statement that explained the issue of microplastic pollution and her vision for the piece.
She really enjoyed the process of the project, especially the creative aspect since she doesn't typically think of herself as an artist, it was a new way to push herself and get out of her comfort zone. It was fun to think about what she wanted to communicate through the piece and how I could best get that across. She also really enjoyed being a part of Shared.Futures. It is an incredible community and being able to be mentored by Yolanda has helped her growth professionally and personally. She's been able to make many new connections that have opened the doors to many new opportunities, and she is excited to continue working with Shared.Futures in the future.