Effective Modes of Alternative Art: The Eco-Reps Trashion Show

My Thursday nights have been interesting lately. On March 31, after three years of eyeing Eco-Reps’ signature spring event, I finally found the chance to attend their Trashion Show, a night of fashion and trash—or trash into fashion.

As others excitedly took the time to mingle in the STEPS lounge while the models made their final adjustments, I decided to temporarily do away with my regular obnoxious, extroverted persona and step aside with the provided salad finger foods (…and two or three chocolatey sprinkled brownies). The crowd they had drawn was moderate in size, yet quite rambunctious, everyone milling about the food, catwalk, and adjacent seats with a few stragglers walking in, attracted by the crowds seen in the transparent STEPS walls. In crunching on the first real vegetables that I’d seen in days (that weren’t vegetable juice), I wanted to reacquaint myself with the signature events on campus after having not stayed on campus for consecutive semesters for two years.


Image credit: Lehigh Eco-Reps Trashion Show 2016 (Facebook)


Image credit: Lehigh Eco-Reps Trashion Show 2016 (Facebook)

Why were signature events, well, signature? Was it the community spirit they fostered through linking common ideas in an entrepreneurial spirit? Similarly, did the entrepreneurial spirit typically involve the arts? What all these interlinking spirits hold in common, and how did they contribute to the campus community?

When the event finally began, it made a light-hearted mockery of New York Fashion Week. The “catwalk” was more of a vertical green golf walk with plastic seats on both sides, and Eco-Reps and the Brown and White had set up a professional camera at the end, supposedly at the ready to take video and pictures. However, the set-up and the event itself did not yield Victoria’s Secret-level results. Very few Lehigh students know how to strut their stuff, and it was captured through the five-minute procession. Both guys and girls were awkward and stiff, freezing at the camera and suddenly unsure of where to place their hands and at what angle to dip their hips. Having participated in a body positivity fashion show my first year of college, I could understand their nervousness and slight uneasiness at posing for more than a second in front of the camera. The ladies attempted to undulate their hips—“it looked so easy to do in heels on TV”—and the men sauntered like seventh-grade boys.

That all being said, none of the above mattered, as that was not the point of the event. The entire premise of the event was to have fun while raising awareness of the preeminence of waste for positive re-imaginings and critical design thinking, and everyone knew it. All (brave) volunteers decided on ridiculous poses rather than the sultry, serious pouts of Paris designer halls. One guy, dressed up as if he were off to LARP in Natty Lite armor, wielded a sword crafted out of—you know it—Natty Lite to resounding cheers and laughs from everyone, while a girl sprinkled some litter over the crowd and sheepishly smiled, once bending over to laugh at the absurdity of it all.


Image credit: Lehigh Eco-Reps Trashion Show 2016 (Facebook)

The costumes themselves were impressive, more than trash bags blowing aimlessly on people’s shoulders. The girls strutted in a strapless dress made from boxes of clementines, a strapless cardboard corset, and color coordinated themselves, mixing their outfits with their own leggings, heels, and fashion make-up. The guys, again, dressed like LARPers, but no costumes had the stability of actual LARP costumes, breaking apart in the middle of the walkway, cups sent scattering everywhere.


Image credit: Lehigh Eco-Reps Trashion Show 2016 (Facebook)


Image credit: Lehigh Eco-Reps Trashion Show 2016 (Facebook)


Image credit: Lehigh Eco-Reps Trashion Show 2016 (Facebook)

The notoriety of the night wasn’t lost on anyone as Pitbull and Ke$ha’s “Timber” started blasting and everyone started singing along. The event had definitely fostered a shared sense and laughter across communities, in spite of the actual divisions of the groups there, especially along gender lines. However, it is possible for fraternities, sororities, athletes wearing lacrosse and track shirts, independents, and Eco-Reps to share a room with each other and partake in a collaborative camaraderie. The room’s atmosphere was decidedly lightened after the event had ended.

The bonds within groups were strengthened as well. The Trashion Show called for volunteer designers and models through flyers and University Announcements email, and this was a well-established event celebrating fun and creativity, so it was easy to encourage participation. Each group prepared their own costume and model, thinking, buying, stitching, and taping together, with the rest of the group coming out to support them with cheers and hoots as their final creation manifested itself in the STEPS concourse. People from other groups joined in, visibly impressed with some outfits.

Eco Reps hold annual Trashion Show from The Brown and White on Vimeo.

Eco-Reps has succeeded with this show every year in using what is “normally considered to be trash” to advocate for sustainability and promote Lehigh’s participation in the national Recyclemania competition. It is an alternative take on creative thought and art. Rather than pushing ideas of sustainability through regular textbook and lecture methods, which students have already heard enough of, Eco-Reps were smart for designing an alternative educational method to reframe the issue that can be excitedly engaged and promote new values in students’ lives. After all, we have different ways of learning and remembering, and engaging different sections of the brain helps get the message across.

Eco-Reps and the participants understood that creativity is taking the basics and finding connections between them, as the official announcements called for that creativity. Entrepreneurship was built into the night in that “there are creative ways to reuse things in actuality that can be functional.” Breaking it down, how did they decide which materials to use that not only accounted for body measurements, but were the most flattering to the body? Which materials worked the best with each other, and did it depend on cuts and stitching?

My mind began turning as questions flooded my mind in considering the mechanics of each design product. However, I knew that in the end, my questions about the annual Trashion Show’s commitment and fostering of community and entrepreneurship with a message through alternative forms of art were successfully answered.

—Sunny Huang, Class of 2016


Of Mothers and Men

MothersandMen(Written by Johanna Grim)
On Thursday, February 25, NYC based performance company The Black Latina Movement will perform an original work of theatre, Of Mothers and Men, at Lehigh University (see below for event details).

Of Mothers and Men presents a set of monologues spoken by women about their relationships with their mothers, motherhood, and the men in their lives. The play tells of love and struggle through an exploration of a spectrum of relationships, from healthy to unhealthy romantic partnerships to complex family bonds. Of Mothers and Men highlights the diversity, pain, and beauty of Black Latina women and their experiences. Crystal Shaniece Roman, Black Latina Movement founder and CEO, who also appears in Of Mothers and Men, created the show to honor the “many paths these intricate relationships often take.” As such, Of Mothers and Men exemplifies the larger project of The Black Latina Movement to “advance the Black Latina voice” through the arts (BlackLatinamovement.com).

Of Mothers and Men is brought to Lehigh’s campus by a collaboration among the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Office of International Affairs, and the Women’s Center. The play is also supported by multiple campus partners, including the Council for Equity and Community. In addition, because of the nature of some of the monologues, representatives from Turning Point of the Lehigh Valley and the Lehigh University Counseling Center and Advocates will be present and available to talk with anyone immediately affected. Turning Point of the Lehigh Valley will be accepting donations. Donations are voluntary. No donation is needed to attend the play.

The organizations and individuals who have worked to bring Of Mothers and Men to Lehigh hope that the play will spark campus and community wide conversations about the experiences of women of color as well as the diverse roles of the women in our lives and communities. A 30 minute Question and Answer session with the cast will directly follow the performance, and the discussion will continue on Friday, February 26 at a Brown Bag Lunch meet-up in the M-Room at noon.

Both the play and the post play meet-up are free and open to Lehigh students, faculty, staff and the general public. Come out to hear the stories of Black Latina women and join in the conversation about relationships, love, and struggle.

Email Rita Jones, Director of the Women’s Center, at rmj207@lehigh.edu, for more information.


Event Details:

The Black Latina Movement Presents: Of Mothers and Men
Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016 @ 6:30pm
Lamberton Hall, Lehigh University

Admission is Free!

Post-Play Brown Bag Lunch Conversation:

Friday, Feb. 26, 2016 @ Noon
M-Room (2nd floor of the University Center), Lehigh University

Event is free, bring your lunch and responses to the play!

Spring Semester 2016 PREVIEW at Zoellner Arts Center

Listed chronologically, the performing arts events of Spring 2016 to consider for course connections, or cultural exploration. Each event or production is linked to page with program information and performance details. Future posts will provide background reading or music review lists for each.

Please note:

  1. Those with * are free and open to the public
  2. Those with ^ are free to LU students with ID
  3. Dept. of Theatre offers “pay what you will” for the Wednesday show during their production.
  4. We can work with faculty or program directors on tickets for group sales.

January 23 M-PACT (on-stage seating, 2 shows)

January 31 TAO: Seventeen Samuriai

February 6 Billy Childs: Map to the Treasure-Reimagining Laura Nyro

*February 11 Documentary Film: The Winding Stream

^February 12 LU Jazz Faculty

February 13 Larry Harlow & The Latin Legends of Fania

February 14 (1 & 4pm)Moon Mouse: Lightwire Theater

February 16 (4:30) and 19 (7:30) Raphael Xavier: The Unofficial Guide to Audience Watching Performance

February 20 NY Jazz Repertory Orchestra

February 21 Polish Baltic Philharmonic Orchestra – All Tchaikovsky

February 26 – March 5 Department of Theatre: boom 

^February 26 & 27 LU Philharmonic Concerto Marathon

^March 4 The Branderson Duo

March 5 Avner the Eccentric: Exceptions to Gravity (1PM Sensory-Friendly & 4PM)

^March 6 East Winds Quintet: Celebrating Creative Lehigh

*March 8 Documentary Film: Rebel

March 10 STOMP

March 19 Moscow Festival Ballet: Giselle

^March 20 Michael Jorgensen Violin Recital: A Classical Romance

*March 23 Notations: Jennifer Whitaker

*April 1-2 LU Choir, Dolce & Glee Club: If Music Be the Food of Love

April 3 Mnozil Brass: Yes, Yes, Yes

*April 5 Notations: Dennis Lehane

April 8-16 Department of Theatre: Gem of the Ocean

*April 14-15 Notations: Michael Milligan – Side Effects

^April 16 LU Jazz Repertory Orchestra and Nicole Henry

*April 19 Documentary Film: Deaf Jam

^April 23 LU Jazz Ensemble, Funk Band and Combo

April 24 Compagne Finzi Pasca: La Veritá

^April 29-30 LU Philharmonic: Dramaville

^May 1 LU Wind Ensemble: From the Past to the Future

^May 6-7 LU Choral Arts: Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem

May 8 Bullets Over Broadway

US Poet Laureate Billy Collins – Tuesday April 14th @ 7:30pm

Zoellner Arts Center’s Notations Series Features
US Poet Laureate

TUESDAY, APRIL 14 at 7:30 PM in Baker Hall


“Billy Collins writes lovely poems…Limpid, gently and consistently startling, more serious than they seem, they describe all the worlds that are and were and some others besides.” — John Updike

Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University continues its fifth year of the innovative series–Notations: Lectures and Other Presentations–with highly-respected representatives from a variety of literary genres. Former (2001-2003) U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins will give a presentation on Tuesday, April 14 at 7:30 pm. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Paris Review and The American Scholar. He is a Guggenheim Fellow, a New York Public Library “Literary Lion” and a former US Poet Laureate. His last three collections of poems have broken sales records for poetry. Tickets are $10 for the public; Free with Lehigh University ID; Tickets required for all; Visit http://www.zoellnerartscenter.org.

Collins has published ten collections of poetry, including Questions About Angels, The Art of Drowning, Picnic, Lightning, Sailing Alone Around the Room: New & Selected Poems, Nine Horses, The Trouble With Poetry and Other Poems, Ballistics, and Horoscopes for the Dead. A collection of his haiku, titled She Was Just Seventeen, was published by Modern Haiku Press in fall 2006. He has also published two chapbooks, Video Poems and Pokerface. In addition, he has edited two anthologies of contemporary poetry: Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry and 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day, was the guest editor of The Best American Poetry 2006, and edited Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems about Birds, with paintings by David Allen Sibley (November 2009). His most recent book is Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems 2003 – 2013.

Here is a video illustration of his poem, “The Art of Drowning,” directed by Diego Maclean.

Included among the honors Collins has received are fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He has also been awarded the Oscar Blumenthal Prize, the Bess Hokin Prize, the Frederick Bock Prize, and the Levinson Prize — all awarded by Poetry magazine. In October 2004, Collins was selected as the inaugural recipient of the Poetry Foundation’s Mark Twain Prize for Humor in Poetry. In April 2013, Collins was selected as the fourth winner of the Donald Hall-Jane Kenyon Prize in American Poetry.

In June 2001, Collins was appointed United States Poet Laureate 2001-2003. In January 2004, he was named New York State Poet Laureate 2004-06. Collins is a Distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College of the City University of New York, as well as a Senior Distinguished Fellow of the Winter Park Institute at Rollins College.

All lectures are presented in collaboration with the Visiting Lecturers Committee and the Lehigh University Creative Writing Program. Billy Collins is supported by the Ann Neitzel Endowment Fund for Poetry and Creative Writing with additional support from the Friends of the Lehigh University Libraries.

For more information, call 610-758-2787, ext. 0 or visit Zoellner Ticket Services, Tuesday 12-6 pm, or online at www.zoellnerartscenter.org.

For readers interested in getting to the bottom of this page, here is Billy Collins’ TED talk:

Experimenting for New Connections

arts@Lehigh has always been a program that supports the arts community on campus and in the South Bethlehem arts district. The arts@Lehigh mission began in 2005 with a provost initiative which supported artistic, creative and aesthetic innovation among students and faculty, as well as collaborations with the community. Financial support, advocacy and communications were the focus of the ArtsLehigh mission. While the funding for ArtsLehigh program ended, we continued to support the arts by advocating and facilitating arts integration on campus, and sharing information about upcoming events and opportunities for the campus and neighboring community. Hence, the subtle name change from ArtsLehigh to arts@Lehigh.

From the beginning, we have been experimenting with multiple communication platforms and sharing what we know with as broad a reach as possible and reasonable. Our weekly newsletter email is a brief curated list of events and activities that happen in the upcoming week. The newsletter is linked to many web-based resources; helping campus programs and local arts organizations share information and build their own communication circles. There are limitations to the newsletter. We are only permitted to send it to the college of arts & sciences email lists. But even with the limitation, we have good friends in the community who share the newsletter to their email lists.

With the limitations of reach, we also needed to put some boundaries on the content; sharing activities that happen on campus and within a walkable distance from campus. There are rare exceptions to this cap; usually faculty or student art work in locations beyond our imposed perimeter.

The blog began as a way to increase reach by providing a platform for more extensive information to be linked in the newsletter, and as a way to provide shareable information in between newsletter releases. We enhance Zoellner Arts Center press releases by adding links for further reading, video and photos when available. We have an extensive portfolio of social media platforms through which we share the links to the blog, as well as support the social media efforts of other campus and community arts communications.

Two weeks ago, the Director or Arts Engagement and Community Cultural Affairs for Lehigh University – Silagh White, with the blessing of the University Communications office made a video to support the “Our Lehigh” welcome campaign for our next president, John Simon. The content of the video was a quick tour of the arts venues in South Bethlehem – which all have Lehigh University connections. The response to the video was mostly positive. The feedback was enough to realize that there is so much art to cover, that maybe a weekly video to support the arts would help extend the reach and add more fun to the mix of communication efforts.

To celebrate the 300th post on the arts@lehigh blog, we share a big announcement.

Here’s a little behind the scenes revelation for our readers. For the last year, all of the arts@Lehigh communications have been coming from a one-person production effort. Of course, some of the information for the newsletter comes from helpful people who share information for their programs. There was a preferred anonymity behind the collected “we”.

So. This one-person communications team for the arts@Lehigh is revealing herself because she’s about to put her face on more videos. The videos will be rough, but will hopefully improve with each edition. Maybe she’s going to start writing in the first person. Maybe.

Trashion Show (not a typo)

The Lehigh Eco-Reps are hosting a great event this week that focuses on waste diversion and sustainability. Join them for a fun night of sustainable fashion. Check out creative outfits made from recyclable materials, watch a runway show, and enjoy dessert.
Eco-Reps’ 3rd annual Trashion Show is on Thursday Feb. 26 at 7pm in the STEPS concourse!  
They  are also looking for designers to showcase creative outfits made out of items normally considered to be trash. All participants will receive a $10 Saxby’s gift card when they sign up their outfit!  For more information about this event and to sign up: http://bit.ly/1Fos9qC    
EcoReps Trashion Show 

Strohl Undergraduate Research grant proposals due Feb 27

Strohl copy

Learn all of the details of the grant here. Just a hint, talk to your professors about research compliance, or research that may involve international travel. It wouldn’t hurt to contact the Office of International Programs to explore those options. If you have any questions about the grant, or how to submit your best proposal, contact VPResearch@lehigh.edu