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How Art Can #UNLITTER the Mind and the Earth

By Olivia Bergmann

Painting of a wave
Canvases can be made out of anything! This is a broken record and a calculator case.

To me, art is so much more than a canvas; it is a mirror reflecting the intricate mosaic of life. This symbolic realm encompasses diverse dimensions, representative of the collective human experience: the intimate language of personal symbolism, the echoes of socio-historical reflection, and a visual philosophical or spiritual representation. Within its kaleidoscope, art intertwines elements of society, government, and humanity that makes people feel united. With #UNLITTER's profound commitment to positive environmental impact, it is a narrative that deserves to be expressed through the lens of art.

Art has always been a sanctuary from the constraints that sought to confine me. In my formative years, the weight of societal expectations pressed upon me, urging conformity and adherence to predefined paths. Amidst this

pressure, my passion for art  proved to be a calming place where expectations faded.

As I approached my later teenage years, though art was still a big part of my life, I had other interests and commitments. A gradual decline in my creative pursuits took a toll on my mental well-being. Art was not merely a medium of my expression; it was the language of my emotions and a visual manifestation of the depths of my imagination. Art, in all its mediums, became the catalyst to #UNLITTER my mind from the clutter of daily life. 

Painting of avocados

I use art as a tool to discover my truest self. In college, I discovered my identity as a visual learner. In my quest for knowledge, I experimented with incorporating art into my education and studying habits. I found it combated burnout and helped me grasp complex concepts. Art became my silent mentor, guiding me through the labyrinth of learning.  

Yet, the path of artistic exploration is not always a smooth ascent. Like a mountain climber navigating treacherous peaks, I faced moments of creative stagnation. It was during these lulled moments that I encountered the inspiration of #UNLITTER. The movement’s unwavering commitment to empowering individuals resonated with me deeply-- sparking a renewed sense of purpose. 

As a student of environmental engineering at the University of Florida, my commitment to sustainability extends beyond art. #UNLITTER, as a concept, transcends the mundane act of picking up trash; it is an invitation to transform the discarded into something new and beautiful—an ode to the infinite possibilities embedded in sustainability. This is where my art and the ideals of #UNLITTER came together. 

painting of jellyfish

Over the summer, my parents and I took on a creative project. We focused on on using our artistic talents to rejuvenate Adirondack chairs that had weathered over the course of 15 years. The project epitomized my idea of #UNLITTERing by making art -- a creative endeavor undertaken with minimal cost and a commitment to sustainability. As the chairs were revitalized, so was our shared space. I realized the power of resourcefulness and the ability to have things feel new, without the need for more material consumption. I was so excited by it, I started painting everything and even creating art as a gift.

To me the fusion of #UNLITTER and my art was seamless. The word #UNLITTER, once just a word to me, now echoes through my artistic endeavors as a mantra—a reminder that sustainability is not a singular act but an intrinsic part of every facet of life. In the hands of an artist, one man's trash is not discarded but repurposed into a masterpiece, embodying the timeless truth that beauty can emerge from the most unexpected places.

painting of chairs

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