BY DAVID SALITURO
Professor Todd Barsanti wants the Sheridan College community to know there is a sustainability crisis impacting the planet.
To get the message across, Barsanti, an Art Fundamentals instructor, has created three posters that are on display at Hazel McCallion Campus. Each deals with a different aspect of environmentalism and contain one simple statement: “This is Not Sustainable.”
The idea for the posters came last summer, when Barsanti attended a residency for design educators. Here he was allowed to work on any project. “I really push my students to work with non-traditional materials,” he says, “and to create work where they get their hands dirty.”
“I wanted to do something where I worked with non-traditional materials, where I did stuff I was telling my students to do.” Doing this project, Barsanti says, allowed him to gain experience in what he was teaching his students and understand what he was putting them through.
One poster is a statement about generating coal-fired electricity. Another is a message about meat, but Barsanti says it is not about vegetarianism and more about industrial farming. Finally, the third poster is about the dependence on fossil fuels and is meant to show an oil spill.
Sheridan students who see the posters say that the message they convey brings awareness to these issues. Jessica Benner’s impression of the posters what that it inspires her to think about her own environmental footprint.
“They definitely have a powerful message, they shows things that people might not think about everyday but that are harming the environment,” she says.
Another student, Holly Campbell, believes the posters will have a positive impact on bringing about social change. “They are inspiring, makes you want to change your habits and how you are having an impact on climate change,” she says.
Barsanti hopes the innovative designs help get the message across. “The materials used are helping to tell the story,” he says. “I hope it makes people spend more time with it. If it was just a sentence printed onto paper people might look at it and move on.”
The posters allowed Barsanti to combine his interest in design with his concern about the environment. At first he struggled to find out how to bring these two together. “For years I wanted to create the two together, that combine the skill with the message,” he says.
Barsanti has experience in both the design and environmental fields. For 16 years he ran his own studio in Toronto as a professional designer. When he began teaching part-time, however, he realized he found a new passion. “It got to the point where I looked forward to spending time in the classroom more than in the studio with clients,” he says. Looking to become a teacher full-time, he earned a degree in Environmental Studies from York University in 2011.
In 2013 his interest in climate change and the environment led him to a training session with former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore. Selected to be part of a group trained by Gore to give a climate change presentation, Barsanti has now worked the presentation into his Art Fundamentals program. Every year he gives the presentation to 500 students and allows them to work on a project to promote social good.
Barsanti worked with Gore’s Climate Reality Project to make the posters a reality. In exchange for covering the costs of printing, the posters have the Climate Reality logo on them.
Barsanti says he is open to the possibility of creating more posters for display. The three posters he has made are currently hanging in the HMC Library, adjacent to the Tutoring Centre, and will remain there until April.