Pesticide Awareness through Art

Upper School ceramics students have created a gallery of ceramic fruits and vegetables to raise awareness about pesticide contamination commonly found in everyday produce. The pieces are slated to hang in the school’s dining hall this spring.

"I wanted to find a way to tie ceramics to sustainability and our dining hall's quest to create thoughtful eaters," says Ceramics teacher Randy Silver. "Pesticides are something a lot of kids probably don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on, but it is something they should be aware of."

Each year the non-profit Environmental Working Group looks at data from the FDA and releases “The Dirty Dozen”, a list of fruits and vegetables that are the most contaminated with residual pesticides and includes foods such as strawberries, spinach, and nectarines. It also releases “The Clean 15”, a list of produce that is least likely to be contaminated by pesticides. These foods include sweet corn, avocados, cabbage, and onions.

Both of Randy's Upper School ceramics classes completed the pieces, comprising a total of 27 fruits and vegetables. Students used all of the foundational sculpting techniques, including the coil, pinch-pot, solid, and hollow.

The inspiration for the project came from the Northwest School’s first ceramics teacher, Karla Lieberman. She created a piece of fruits and vegetables that was exhibited in the dining hall for years, but was recently relocated to make room for the new food-related book library. Randy hopes to incorporate Karla's piece in the new display.