Sidewalk artist illustrates an earthy concept

By Amy Keitel
Correspondent

Nicole Lyons pursued an eco-friendly vision with her sidewalk patterns made entirely of natural materials. (Tim Lee / Photo Editor)
Nicole Lyons pursued an eco-friendly vision with her sidewalk patterns made entirely of natural materials. (Tim Lee / Photo Editor)

Students in passing may have noticed patterns of birdseed and maple syrup decorating the area outside the Roscoe L. West library.

The creator of the all-natural sidewalk art is senior graphic design major Nicole Lyons, who has decided to create her senior project for her capstone class solely out of environmentally-friendly resources. The piece is made out of birdseed and maple syrup (used as glue) in an attempt to demonstrate how art materials can be helpful in improving the environment.

The mural is an eco-friendly fall landscape, according to Lyons, and will include a “self-reflective question to make people think about their personal impact on the environment.”

“I wanted to make something in which nothing would be left behind,” Lyons said.

The class’s assignment is to create a series of posters or designs based on each student’s thesis. Lyon’s thesis is based on environmental design, and she is exploring how different materials can be used to have the least impact on the environment. She emphasized that one of her biggest priorities is to keep her work as chemical-free as possible because of the harmful effects they have on the atmosphere.

“I really find the direction of Nicole’s research and her concept behind her outdoor advertising project to be extremely relevant to both contemporary issues in Graphic Design and the environment,” Elizabeth Mackie, professor of graphic design, said. “It is important for designers to address important social issues and lead the way for change.”

As stylists for businesses, graphic designers help create a company’s identity. Posters and flyers create waste with all of the paper and ink that is used, and a better alternative to multiple small advertisements would be a poster, Lyons said, because they are “loud and big.” But posters are still less environmentally-friendly than Lyons’ completely eco-friendly work.

“This project could be a fascinating look into the future of sustainable advertising,” senior graphic design major Diane Marra said.

Lyons said her project was inspired by a piece at the 365 Annual Design Exhibition, which was sponsored by the American Institute for Graphic Arts (AIGA), a professional association for design. The piece by Sagmeister Inc., a New York City-based graphic design company, consisted of only pennies, Lyons said.

“Anyone can put a series of images together,” Lyons said. “But the fact that you can think outside of the box is how you beat the next designer.”

Lyons’ project will remain outside the old library until the elements destroy it, or animals eat it, which is what Lyons said she intended.

“Saving the world isn’t someone else’s job, it’s yours,” Lyons said.