UH Artists Peddling Messages of Sustainability with Bike Trailers

Students to Showcase Customized Works during Brunch on the Bayou, Bike In on Nov. 2

UH graphic communication students are putting the final touches on their Pedal Powered Pop Ups. The interactive bike trailers will be on view Nov. 2 during two events along Buffalo Bayou.

This semester, University of Houston graphic communications students are both peddling and pedaling messages of environmental awareness.

The project Re(cycle): Pedal Powered Pop Ups includes four interactive bike trailers created by 19 UH students with guidance from graphic communications professor Cheryl Beckett. These trailers offer visitors activities, treats and facts related to healthy lifestyles and sustainability   

On Nov. 2, Houstonians can visit these trailers and meet the artists during two community events: Brunch on the Bayou at 10 a.m. on Jackson Hill Landing (Memorial Drive and Waugh Drive) and Bike In at 6 p.m. in Sesquicentennial Park (downtown on Preston St.).

Re(Cycle) offered four teams of students the opportunity to design and construct trailers that were visually engaging, informative, and interactive. Fabrication was a challenge for the students. While most of the trailers were constructed by the teams, TX/RX Labs and  John Reed, art professor with UH’s Interdisciplinary Practice and Emerging Forms program, provided assistance.

Students developed specific themes for each trailer and conducted research to develop fact-based infographics and interactive elements. The Pedal Powered Pop Ups are as follows:

  • Lifecyle addresses Houston’s bike community and offers details on local bike shops and trails. The trailer also allows visitors to create customized T-shirts with rubber stamps (made from bike parts). It also includes facts on the ecological and health benefits of using bicycles as a transportation mode.
  • Go Buggy is designed to inspire natural pesticides and will include live ladybugs that visitors can take home and use in their gardens (as they consume insects that are harmful to plants).
  • Fresh will offer information on the importance of farmers’ markets and provide homemade ice cream (made from produce purchased at area farmers’ markets). It also includes bike routes to local farmers’ markets.
  • Seedagami offers a station where visitors can create origami art using seed paper (made by the students using recycled paper), which can then be planted to grow wildflowers.

“This project is challenging us as designers because we’re used to working with items that are one-sided or flat. We had to come up with a three-dimensional trailer with interactive components,” said John Reamer, senior graphic communication student, who worked on the Fresh trailer. “We also had to communicate our message in a way that provokes a response. So, we needed to show that visiting farmers’ markets can be easy and fun. One of the ways we’re doing that is with ice cream.”

These trailers, funded in part by Buffalo Bayou Partnership and a UH Mitchell Center for the Arts Innovation Grant, are the first phase of a larger project that will continue next semester. Beckett’s students will collaborate with peers in the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture (under the guidance of architecture professor Patrick Peters), Reed, and graphic communications professor Beckham Dossett . Together, they will create a mobile bike hub (shaded structure) with multimedia elements.

As part of UH’s School of Art, the graphic communications program prepares students for careers in the ever-evolving design industry. Curriculum focuses on history, theory, methods and practice. Coursework also focuses on interdisciplinary collaborations and team building. Projects take students’ talents out of the classroom and into the Houston community. Recent graphic communications initiatives have allowed students to contribute to educational displays and exhibitions at the city’s historic Ryan Middle School and Project Row Houses. Other projects have contributed to the city’s urban landscape such as works developed for the city’s Japhet Creek and the underpass at the Gulf Freeway and Wayside Drive. For more details on the university’s graphic communication program, visit its website.

For more details on Brunch on the Bayou and Bike In, visit the Buffalo Bayou Partnership website.