Seniors Jennifer Johns, St. Louis Park, Minn., Luke Benson, Eau Claire, and Alison Wheeler, Viroqua, began work on the hybrid bus art project in August 2012 after being selected from a pool of 30 student applicants.
UW-Eau Claire’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs awarded each student a scholarship for the many hours they spent producing and perfecting designs under the guidance of faculty mentors Jyl Kelley, an assistant professor in photography; Ned Gannon, an associate professor in illustration; and Sooyun Im, an assistant professor in graphic design.
“The theme of the project was centered on the three essential components that make up important elements of a watershed: hydrosphere, Earth’s water; atmosphere, air and gas; and biosphere, living organisms,” Kelley said. “After initiating the project with Mike Branco from the Eau Claire Transit Commission, I spoke with Jim Boulter from the UW-Eau Claire Watershed Institute for Collaborative Environmental Studies, who suggested the theme of the three elements, since, coincidentally, we are designing three buses.”
The Eau Claire Transit Commission approved the students’ designs, intended to highlight the efficient and eco-friendly aspects of the new hybrid buses, which can now be seen around Eau Claire on their daily routes.
A winter scene is displayed on one side of the biosphere bus, showing a snowball fight between a snowman and a child while a badger peeks out from its hole. The spring season is represented on one side of the atmosphere bus, showing green leaves starting to form on trees. The hydrosphere bus showcases Eau Claire’s summer, with characters enjoying water activities such as canoeing and swimming. Autumn is represented on the biosphere bus through falling leaves and the many bright colors associated with the season.