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Monmouth College student creates sculpture to combat drunk driving

Junior Emily Henson created the sculpture in the center of campus, using a junked car and more than 200 party cups and empty alcohol cans.

MONMOUTH, Ill. — A Monmouth College student is raising awareness about the impacts of drunk driving.

Junior Emily Henson created a sculpture in the middle of Monmouth College's campus to draw attention to that issue.

"It was more of a hobby for me than anything super serious," Henson said.

That hobby gave Henson plenty of creative choices.

"I came across wine corks and it kinda spiraled from there," Henson said. "I was like, alcohol, drunk driving."

The topic of drunk driving and alcohol use is one she hears of often around campus.

"It just happens very often and I don’t think people really know how to handle that situation if they’re in the passenger’s seat or in the driver’s seat," Henson said.

For two days, she created and parked a new fixture at the center of campus.

That fixture was a junked car, donated from an area junkyard specifically for this project.

"Students are assigned to kind of change a space," said Stacy Lotz, an art professor at Monmouth College.

Lotz teaches Henson's current sculpture class and challenged the students to find a project that inspired them.

"I’m a big believer that any material can become something better than itself," Lotz said.

Those materials included the junked car, plus 230 red Solo cups and empty alcohol cans.

"I did go dumpster-diving for the cans," Henson said.

Credit: WQAD/Josh Lamberty

All of those cups and cans were strung together and connected to the steering wheel.

"My main goal is to stop and stare and look, and really think about maybe, you know, they've had a personal experience, maybe they've personally done it, maybe they've been in the car with someone," Henson said. "I want them to just realize the consequences of, you know, doing that."

All of that was designed specifically to show the power of a choice.

"I’m hoping they see this and think maybe we should walk next time to the bar or do something else besides driving," Henson said.

It is an art piece, leaving a lasting impact.

"That’s the best thing about art. When you can have a message, you can share it with the public," Lotz said.

Lotz said in her 27 years of teaching, Henson's sculpture was one of the most impactful she's seen in her career.

"They (the alcohol cans) could’ve been thrown on the ground. But there’s a more thoughtful process that’s going on there," Lotz said.

The sculpture was intended to only be temporarily installed. The sculpture will be removed starting Thursday, and the car will be returned to an area junkyard.

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction or abuse, you can call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at 800-487-4889. This free, confidential service is available all day, every day, and can provide additional referral services.

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