Grad student turns trash into treasure
When first-year graduate student Jonathan Thompson approached the Office of Admissions in search of materials to use for his art, he did not know that his pieces would end up hanging on the office’s walls.
“A couple months ago, probably in mid-July, he came to the department and asked if we had any ink cartridges we recycled that he could use, because he liked to use them for his projects,” Robin Walczak, an admissions administrative assistant, said. “We ended up collecting a whole box for him.”
Thompson uses recycled ink cartridges to create artwork in his downtime, when he isn’t working on his graduate thesis. He used both steam-punk and Victorian themes in his artwork as an undergraduate student. Now he keeps that style in mind while creating new pieces.
“When I found that people had an abundance of recycled cartridges, I thought that I could use them to make something interesting,” he said. “I like going around and scavenging junk and making it more significant.”
His first creation was a pencil holder that now sits on Walczak’s desk, and is noticed by a lot of office visitors, Walczak said.
“People comment on it all the time,” she said. “It was kind of a thank you for putting him in contact with people. It’s really beautiful.”
Another creation hangs on a wall in the Office of Admissions. Thompson said he plans to create an additional piece to put beside it, including touch-ups and other traits that will give it a greater glow.
“I certainly try to add color where it will be tasteful and interesting,” Thompson said. “I’m working on a duplicate piece for the one that’s in there now – it will go side by side.”
While most of his artwork is currently in production, Thompson said he has already heard positive feedback.
“Initially, people were very fascinated by it,” Walczak said. “Especially when they find out that it’s made from ink cartridges, they’ll really step back and look at it.”
Walczak said that she sees the inclusion of his art as a way to stay true to one of Towson’s greatest purposes.
“Our staff wants to see student work,” Walczak said. “It is important to display what our students create—that is the purpose of the University.”