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Activity Idea: Chris Jordan – Glass, Seattle (Quick Tip)

What impact does our garbage have on the natural environment?

Students will consider the impact that human/consumer garbage is having on the natural world. Students will create a classic yet ironic landscape using consumer waste (catalogs, packaging, plastics,) in order to underscore the deleterious effects of garbage on the land as well as to highlight the impact the visual arts can have on bringing attention and new perspectives to important environmental/social issues.


Engage in VTS of photography by artists Chris Jordan and Sze Tsung Leong

Participate in a class discussion of the essential question as well as the following relevant guiding questions:

How are human habits of consumption reflected in the photography of Jordan and Leong?

How do the visual arts help to bring attention to important social issues?

Students will plan their “trash scape.” They will flesh out ideas and plan the production of their landscape (e.g. materials use, composition, formal elements) both in drawing and writing exercises in a sketchbook.

Students will create a landscape collage/assemblage using found objects that reflects the effects of consumption and garbage on our natural world.

Have students offer and accept respectful, specific, feedback to and from fellow artists.

Have students title their artwork.


impact, consumer, landfill, found objects, recycled, up-cycled, repurposed, landscape, horizon line, foreground, middle ground, background, collage, assemblage, overlap


Found objects, glue sticks, staplers, needle and thread, hole punches, paper fasteners, cardboard


Websites:  Tom Deininger:

Vik Muniz:

Khalil Chistee:

Mandy Barker:

Gregg Segal:


Waste Maps:…

Books: Knechtel, John. Trash. MIT Press, 2006. [ISBN: 978-0-26211-301-4]

Scheunemann, Pam. Trash to Treasure: Kid’s Upcycling Guide to Crafts. Scarletta Junior Readers, 2013. [ISBN: 978-1-93806-318-3]

Royte, Elizabeth. Garbage Land: The Secret Trail of Trash. Back Bay Books, 2006.    [ISBN: 978-0316154611]

Community: The Scrap Exchange: A creative reuse center