Nicole Wolf is proof humanity in art can be found anywhere.
The Calgary artist found time in a bomb shelter in Ukraine, while on a humanitarian mission, to design a special project commissioned by McDonald’s.
The Last Straw Project is intended to commemorate the fast food giant’s transition away from plastic straws. The restaurant chain had the final bundles of single-use plastics transformed into trays and tapped 15 artists from across Canada, including Wolf and fellow Calgarian Jarett Sitter, to design the liners for them to immortalize the change.
Wolf, 32, looked to her surroundings in Calgary for inspiration and the many ways people can have an impact on the environment.
“It’s dreaming what would it look like if we lived in community more and were really conscious about what we use and how we use it again,” said the freelance artist.
Her snapshot of life dives into the cycle of products and the many ways people can use everyday items in a more sustainable way. That can mean having roommates or reimagining old outfits instead of constantly buying new ones, or even turning them into doll clothes instead of discarding them. The scene also depicts composting for garden use, upcycling paint from kitchen scraps, reusing rubber from old tires to make chairs and using solar panels for energy. The more one looks at the artwork, the more one will see in the high-detail scene.
For Wolf, it’s a message that goes beyond just taking care of the earth, but it’s a way of life and caring for one another.
“I think there’s a perspective that how you care for your environment is a reflection on how you care for yourself and those close to you,” said Wolf. “While it’s not always possible, of course, to create a zero-waste life, it is the little things . . . It’s kind of a change of heart and a change of pace. There’s a level of sacrifice that has to be made to live a bit slower and a bit smaller and use less, but I think there can be some real good payoffs, even in just your personal and relational life.”
Sitter, 37, chose to focus on environmental sustainability, painting a picture of an attainable green future in Alberta.
His vision showcases different types of energy — wind, solar and hydro — as well as different approaches to lifestyles, including more vertical living, recycling, reliance on public transportation and cycling, electric cars and biodiversity.
“I think that it can even grow further than what I’m trying to display here,” he said. “I was very deliberate in showing that there is still a city, there is still roads and transportation and infrastructure, but how that can be more thoughtfully integrated into nature.”
Sitter was born and raised in Calgary and is also a freelance artist who works with magazines and the music world, while also contributing animation and post-production for numerous music videos. His art is character driven and often explores the world around those characters.
The trays themselves were created by The Rogerie in Kelowna, B.C. — the peppermint-esque swirl of colours reflective of the former white and red straws — and will be donated to local Ronald McDonald House Charities for either display or auction.