Taking Action- Anna Sanders and Upcycling

Hello, my name is Anna Sanders, and I am the Creative Director of the Canadian Rockies Youth Network. I am a Calgarian artist studying visual arts at Central Memorial High School. I usually work with oil paint, depicting and bringing awareness to local landscapes, such as the Athabasca glacier. My goal is to take part in the fight for climate justice through art and music, and to encourage and introduce artistic ways of environmentalism. 

  Currently I’ve been using my love of art to create an environmentally friendly sculpture made almost entirely from repurposed material. It is meant to resemble a Bull Trout, the official fish of Alberta. The Bull Trout is endangered due to habitat destruction and rising temperatures, mainly from logging, and oil and gas. I realized that buying new wood materials would contribute to logging and the decline of the Bull Trout, so my sculpture is made from upcycled seats from the theatre renovation at Central Memorial and used ping-pong tables. I’m hoping the piece will promote awareness of the Bull Trout’s decline, as well as awareness about resistance to consumer culture.  

If not for this art project, it is likely that the materials I used would have ended up in the dump. I believe that more often than we think, buying new materials isn’t necessary; the art of reusing and repurposing is much more sustainable, and in this case, much less expensive. Visual arts is about more than aesthetics, there is meaning behind what we use and the thought behind the process. There’s value in the work put in to make those seats in the first place, and my piece also has nostalgic value. It is made from seats students at Central Memorial have used to enjoy school productions for decades. 

Part of my role as Creative Director is participating in the “Paint Your Threatened Glaciers” action challenge with Rockies Repeat and the Canadian Rockies Youth Network. I encourage other youths to compete in this contest with an original painting of a glacial landscape you have been to or have seen via Google Earth. 

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I’m grateful for the opportunity to create art and music for the Canadian Rockies Youth Summit. It is so gratifying to be encouraged to find my talents, and use them in a way that can help bring awareness to today’s climate issues. Seeing the beauty in our environment motivates us to take care of it. I hope I can inspire others to appreciate the beauty in nature; the first step in conservation. 

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