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Community High students repurpose used coffee cups for Youth Art Month

Youth Art Month returns to Ann Arbor in March

University of Michigan grad student Joy Zou holds up artwork by student Felix McKenna at Community High School. Zou came up with the idea to repurpose coffee cups for Youth Art Month.
University of Michigan grad student Joy Zou holds up artwork by student Felix McKenna at Community High School. Zou came up with the idea to repurpose coffee cups for Youth Art Month. (Meredith Bruckner)

ANN ARBOR – Each year, the Main Street Area Association partners with Ann Arbor Public Schools to celebrate Youth Art Month in downtown Ann Arbor.

Throughout the month, art created by students ages K-12 is displayed in the windows of downtown businesses, transforming the area into a whimsical art gallery.

This year, students from Community High School are creating sustainable art made from used coffee cups that students have been collecting.

“About a month and a half ago, the whole school started collecting,” said art teacher Elizabeth Portincasa. “So, whenever a student is done with their coffee, they bring it down to the art room. We’re storing them and cleaning them.”

Completed art projects by Community High students using coffee cups as a canvas.
Completed art projects by Community High students using coffee cups as a canvas. (Meredith Bruckner)

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The coffee cups have been cut in a way that their interior becomes a small canvas. Students in Portincasa’s class spent Thursday morning using paints, pencils and permanent markers to decorate their cups.

The finished cups will be linked together and hung like a curtain in storefront windows on Main Street.

The coffee cup concept was the idea of University of Michigan graduate student Joy Zou. She studies architecture and has a strong interest in sustainability. She answered the open call for artist collaborators after a coffee cup on her desk gave her some inspiration.

Students paint designs on coffee cups for Youth Art Month.
Students paint designs on coffee cups for Youth Art Month. (Meredith Bruckner)

“I’m very into the idea of sustainability and environmental issues," said Zou. “I wanted to let the kids and also our community know that climate change is not the only problem that we should be thinking about, but also the trash crisis. It’s such a huge topic and it’s being underrated a lot of the time.”

Senior Jacob Iwashyna said he enjoyed the message behind the project.

“I like the idea that it’s got a message behind it and trying to promote awareness of climate change and pollution,” he said. "I think that’s really cool.”

Students work on projects for Youth Art Month at Community High School on Feb. 20, 2020.
Students work on projects for Youth Art Month at Community High School on Feb. 20, 2020. (Meredith Bruckner)

Other schools participating in the coffee cup project are Pittsfield and Bryant elementary schools.

The art will be installed on March 2.

For more information about Youth Art Month, visit www.mainstreetannarbor.org/youthartmonth.


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