Tree hugger art project draws attention to campus food garden

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The 'Tree Hugger' art project located in the CSUN Campus Food Garden features stick figure-like men made out of 'completely green' material. Photo Credit: Tessie Navarro / Visual Editor

Tree huggers have invaded the Campus Food Garden on the north east side of campus.

These little men made of organic materials were assigned by professor Edie Pistolesi and used as inspiration for a garden art party hosted by the Institute of Sustainability late last month.

The art is still on display as stick figure-like men made of hay, leaves, and unripened nuts cling to a tree, plant stems and vegetable vines in the garden, located between the softball field and the Northridge Academy High School.

The display will stay as long as possible, Pistolesi said, as the only enemies of the art project are squirrels and the November winds.

The majority of the art was made by non-art students, as students in her children’s art and introductory art classes are mostly liberal study majors or freshman outside of the art major, Pistolesi said.

They, along with students from the Northridge Academy High School, designed the art project to connect art with their research on global warming.  Pistolesi was asked by Wendy Burke of the Institute for Sustainability to bring the “completely green” project to the garden.

“For the situation, the tree huggers seemed like a good match,” Pistolesi said.

Materials were collected by students, and, outside of the raffia used to tie them together, were completely green and completely free, Pistolesi said.

“The purpose of the event was to bring awareness to the CSUN food garden and there was an art opening and reception for CSUN’s campus sustainability day,” said Dr. Erica Woodman with the psychology department.

The project grew to include Dr. Ken Sakatani, Dr. Lynette Henderson and a teacher from Northridge Academy, Rene Shufelt, Pistolesi said.

About 40 students attended the garden art party, along with a film crew that made a video on CSUN’s sustainability practices, said Sarah Percle, student assistant with the Institute of Sustainability.

“The Campus Community Food Garden was established to educate students about healthy food choices, sustainable food gardening techniques, and to promote community involvement to students,” Percle said.

Garden workdays are held every two weeks, when students can plant what is in season and harvest it once it’s ready, Percle said. Produce goes to whoever cultivates the food.


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