What was that 65-foot-tall tower of printer paper boxes on the Cut? None other than Masters of Fine Arts student Bill Cravis' "Printing to the Sky," a pun on the sculpture "Walking to the Sky." (See, Walking to the Sky and Mao Yisheng to be Installed.) As part of Earth Week 2006, Cravis gained permission from the University to encase the Cut's flagpole in printer paper boxes for two days, April 17 and 18. Cravis collected the 400 printer boxes from clusters around Carnegie Mellon's campus over the course of the past year.
"When my curious audience on the Cut asks me, 'What is it?' I usually respond, 'It's a campus-wide collaborative public artwork,'" Cravis reported. "We all made 'Printing to the Sky' together."
Cravis hopes that "Printing to the Sky" will help remind members of the Carnegie Mellon community that conserving even one sheet of paper does make a difference.
As for the site of the piece, Cravis chose to build his tower around the flagpole for two reasons: first, the pole served as a "ready-made armature" for the tower; second, the flagpole is a symbol of American freedom. Although Cravis initially had some difficulty obtaining permission from the University Police and the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) to use the flagpole for two days, he worked with the CFA Dean Hilary Robinsonand University President Jared Cohon to gain permission to utilize the flagpole.
"In the back of my mind, I feel that the flagpole on campus represents our freedom to consume recklessly, a sort of birthright that comes with being an American. The eyes of the world are certainly upon us in recent years, scrutinizing our relatively decadent lifestyle," Cravis explained. "On a more positive note, I was interested in exercising my freedom of expression – one of the coveted features of life in the United States – at the meaningful site of the flagpole."
According to Barb Kviz, the environmental coordinator for Facilities Management Services, said that although the pay-to-print initiative seems to have reduced paper print-outs on campus, Carnegie Mellon still goes through approximately 11,500 boxes of printer paper a year.
"['Printing to the Sky']'s a small fraction of the total paper we use on campus in a year," said Kviz.
Kviz also pointed to Carnegie Mellon's recent performance in the annual college recycling competition, Recycle Mania, as evidence that the University needs to recycle more. Out of 45 colleges in the competition, Carnegie Mellon ranked 38 for overall recycling.
Currently, Cravis has many other pieces of artwork that represent problems with consumption and environmental conservation on display at The Pittsburgh Banal exhibit in the Regina Gouger Miller Gallery. (See, Unsurprising Originality in The Pittsburgh Banal.) He is currently applying for recognition from the Guinness Book of World Records for the tallest stack of boxes. After graduating from Carnegie Mellon's Masters of Fine Arts program, Cravis hopes to go on to teach art at the university level.
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