When Meghan Thomson ‘18 was growing up, she spent most summers in her Kinnelon, NJ garage working on painting wooden signs and giving them to friends and family. That creativity and giving spirit still burned bright for her at Lehigh. In late spring semester Thomson created pastel-colored candles made from crayons and offered them to students at the EWFM Library to combat stress during finals.
The candles -- crayon on the bottom, wax on the top -- were part of a project in a spring Sculpture I class taught by art professor Lucy Gans. In the course, students were asked to design works of art with an interactive component and that made a social impact on campus. While candles cannot be used on campus, she hoped students would appreciate their symbolic association with light in darkness, relaxation, and warmth. “The emphasis is on the crayon because it symbolizes going back to the roots of education, to the simpler times of kindergarten and joy,” Thomson said. “The candle also represents light in a ‘dark time,’ also know as finals.”
A marketing major, with a minor in graphic design, Thomson has always had a love for art and a devotion to giving back to the community. Two murals she created are on display in Kinnelon. She painted one, Georgia O’Keefe’s 1927 Red Poppy, inside her high school. The other, a Kinnelon Rec Football Colts logo, covers the side of a snack shack at the town municipal fields. Thomson said she loved making them because she was able to give back to her hometown through art. “It's a hobby I've always loved.”
Other students in Thomson’s class explored planned obsolescence and environmental issues through their sculptures. For one project, two students bought the entire front end of an old Ford truck from a scrap metal yard, painted half bright yellow and covered it in hundreds of lemons. “Their piece symbolized the transition from well-made, heavy-duty cars to the "lemon" cars that don't last as long. It pokes fun at products made today and how nothing is made as well anymore,” she said.
Another student made seven turtle shells out of clay. Thomson said “As you look at each shell, they start to decay, which represents the turtles and other sea creatures that perish because of pollution and trash that damage and affect our beautiful oceans.”
Reflecting on her last two weeks at Lehigh, she said “We all started in the same place, coloring in kindergarten and it is amazing from that path how people lives have gone in such different directions, even at the same school people are doing such different and incredible things!”
As for life after Lehigh, Thomson plans to work for Covanta, a sustainable energy company based in Morristown, New Jersey, where she will become part of their design and marketing team.
LTS was pleased to support Thomson's vision, and this project aligns with the changing role of library spaces to not only house library and computing resources, but to serve as a community space and center for student exploration and scholarly expression.