When recycling turns to art


Photo by Mike Gulett

Margarita Antillon (left) and Casandra Williams, art students at Missouri Southern, working on an art project for Focal Point. 

Victoria Gaytan

As a group of students pool into the classroom for the club meeting, they know they are all here for a reason: to make art and share what they learn and create with the community. 

Students interested in a variety of artistic media gather for the Focal Point meeting.

Focal Point, originally called Art League, is a student organization that fosters students’ creativity in several areas, and encourages learning new techniques in a collaborative environment. The club is currently advised by Burt Bucher, associate professor of art. 

“[Focal Point] is a general art club that is about student experiences, seeing and experiencing art, and building and developing a community in the art department,” Bucher said. 

Current club members are working to bring in new learning experiences for the group.

“We want to be able to give students art education that isn’t in [class] curriculum,” said sophomore art major Casandra Williams.

Williams and freshman art major Margarita Antillon have many ideas they hope to implement, such as club trips and bringing in guest speakers who can interest club members in new topics, such as animation and film. 

Members do not have to be art students. Students of any major are welcome to join. 

Because club members have different interests such as painting, printmaking and crocheting, there is a variety of media for people to work with. 

Antillon is working on crafting everyday items out of crocheted plastic bags. 

Similar to knitting, crocheting is traditionally used with yarn to create bags, blankets and other fabric items but Antillon was inspired by a project she saw on YouTube, where women in Nanaimo, Canada crocheted sleeping bags for homeless people out of plastic bags.

In using plastic bags, dubbed “plarn,” Antillon began to crochet things that can be used throughout everyday life. It was something that she was interested in personally, taking bags and recycling them into something else. 

Antillon was interested in recycling and wanted to start crochet a lot sooner, but it took some time to start since there many steps involved. 

“I’m hoping and planning for us to be able to have more products made by recycled bags,” Antillon said. She to have a variety of products, things that can be used every day, like sandals, potholders, bags.

Since Focal Point is a club based on local and departmental community, Williams and Antillon want to be able to give back to the area.

The club has been going to sell paintings and other products at Third Thursday and art events. Williams and Antillon want to use the money raised to help the community but are working to decide on a mission.

In doing this, they are also gaining experience as artists, improving their skills and learning to merchandise their work and network. 

Antillon and Williams describe the club community as friendly and supportive. Antillon said she didn’t think other people would be interested in the same things she is, such as the plarn crocheting. 

“It really is like a little family,” Williams said. 

Members are able to talk to each other about their art, giving opinions and advice, and asking questions about their works.

Williams said that the club members try to be problem solvers, and when they see things around them, they think about how they might like to improve them creatively. There have been several ideas about painting murals in the community or on campus. 

Williams said they are open to collaborating with other student organizations on campus, too. A big goal of the club is to not only encourage creating art, but to create a good sense of community. 

Students join for several reasons. 

Antillon joined because she didn’t know many people in the department and wanted to make new friends, long-time friendships and good relationships. 

“I’m hoping the friends I make and the places we will go will make it worth it,” Williams said.

Focal Point is not restricted to art students. It is open to students of any major, and persons interested in joining can contact Burt Bucher at [email protected]

The club’s social media is @mssufocalpoint and Facebook page is Focal Point.