“Art and the Environment” Seminar Students Educate with “Bottle Falls”


"Bottle Falls," a four-story sculpture created by Albion's "Art and the Environment" seminar, part of the class's multifaceted education program on the environmental impact of the bottled-water industry.

Story by Jake Weber; photos by Morris Arvoy

The environmental cost of America’s passion for bottled water is brought into beautiful, if disturbing focus with “Bottle Falls,” a four-story tall sculpture currently on display at Albion College. The “bottlefall,” created by students in the College’s “Art and the Environment” First-Year Experience seminar, is on display through at least through Dec. 1 in Albion’s Science Complex, at the corner of East Michigan and Hannah Streets in Albion.

The sculpture contains some 2,500 water bottles shaped into a waterfall that pours from the atrium ceiling to the floor. It was designed and created to address the seminar students' growing concern with the bottled-water industry in the U.S.

Biology professor Doug White (bottom) who co-teaches "Art and the Environment" with art history professor Bille Wickre, helps students steady the bottlefall.

"People buy and throw out 30 million bottles of water every day,” says seminar participant Rebecca Denison, '10. “Nine out of 10 bottles end up in the garbage, not recycled.” She adds, “Mass propaganda is so persuasive that [many] people feel tap water is not as good as bottled water. Our research has shown us that is really not the case. Plus, it is a total myth that these plastic water bottles cannot be reused.”

“We brainstormed about [how we could present] this issue for a long time,” adds Garrett Kuhlman, another student in the seminar. “I definitely like doing a hands-on project like this rather than just sitting and writing reports on water bottles. This is more effective.”