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New UMFA Exhibition Features Sustainable Design Projects by Students

Exploring Sustainability at UMFA

Exploring Sustainability at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts demonstrates how principles of ecological sustainability and affiliated design strategies can be applied to creative thinking and to the design process. The exhibition, featuring work from graphic design students in the University of Utah’s Department of Art and Art History, is intended to stimulate further dialogue among the University and local communities about the ecological problems created by manufacturing processes, consumption and waste disposal and the ways in which sustainable design practices can mitigate these.

During Sustainable Design Practice, the studio art course in which this work was created, students considered the ways in which designers can bring about positive social change by applying knowledge of sustainable practices to the work they create, the messages they visually communicate, and the clients they choose to support through their work. The resulting projects are inspired examples of how students integrated sustainable design into their own creative processes.

“Over the course of the semester, students began thinking more deeply about the opportunities they have to use their design skills in ways that positively impact the community,” said Carol Sogard, Associate Professor of Art. “They began to understand how they can use their creativity to improve the world.”

The projects on view comprise a range of approaches, including an installation of breathing masks intended to educate viewers about air pollution in Utah, a floor cloth created from repurposed billboard vinyl, and several interactive projects that gather visitor input to create a portrait of community attitudes and practices related to sustainability. The exhibition also features an installation about a student service project for the nonprofit Wasatch Community Gardens, in which students re-conceptualized an annual event related to urban gardening.

“Exploring Sustainability highlights the voices of our student community in an important dialogue about the potential impact of artists to affect change,” said Kerry O’Grady, UMFA’s director of education and engagement. “It is a chance to engage in a conversation about personal and global ideas considering a variety of perspectives articulated through students’ creative work.”


The Utah Museum of Fine Arts is located on the University of Utah campus in the Marcia and John Price Museum Building at 410 Campus Center Drive. The UMFA’s mission is to inspire critical dialogue and illuminate the role of art in our lives. General admission is $7 adults, $5 youth and seniors, FREE for U of U students/staff/faculty, UMFA members, higher education students in Utah, and children under six years old. Thanks to the Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts, and Parks Program, free admission offered the first Wednesday and third Saturday of each month. Museum hours are Tuesday – Friday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Wednesdays 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Weekends, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.; closed Mondays and holidays. For more information call (801) 581-7332 or visit

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    The projects offered by the Utah University students are really striking and seem easy to create, but none has thought about them before. When some simple things are turned into something beneficial for the society or environment, it really deserves attention and praise. Let’s take, for example, a simple pen that still remains an indispensable accessory of every business person or student. Apart for being eco-friendly, as you will not throw it away as soon as it doesn’t write and buy a new one, it is able to save your life in an emergency. I’m talking about the first aid kits. Everyone will agree that the best first aid kit was created with people in mind and by some genius similar to those Utah students.