Sustainability in Cultures Art Gallery

About Sustainability in Cultures

Sustainability was not invented by the coining of the term “sustainable.” It means different things to different people, cultures, and communities. Each has distinct sustainable traditions and a myriad of groups have endured and shown resilience towards environmental injustices. This art gallery is inspired by this variety of perspectives. We hope to showcase what sustainability means in diverse lenses and how it manifests across cultures. 

Zero Waste UCLA and the Carbon Neutrality Initiative are partnering to highlight these perspectives in an art gallery. We are featuring art from the UCLA community in a variety of physical and non-physical mediums. The art was displayed in the Kerckhoff Art Gallery during Spring 2022. Each art piece is featured in a digital format below.

Featured Artists

Urban Weeds Meet Sustainable Fashion by Amber R Sackett

Age, the New Rage by Bernice Wang

Lens at Evening by Alexandra Roosnovo

Choices by Raluca Mocanu

Decommissioned to DRMO by Chaunti Hatchett and Jacob Ursua

A New Era by Nancy Nan

What He Meant To Say by Cheryl Ma

Ocean Guide by Isabel Dawson

Urban Weeds Meet Sustainable Fashion: Tracing Los Angeles’ Global Horticultural History Through Botanical Adornments

Artist: Amber R Sackett (she/her/hers)

Inspired by the Eastern European tradition of wearing flower crowns, I have woven wildflowers in my hair for as long as I can remember. As a Michigander accustomed to the seasonal rhythm of gathering wildflowers, I found that my relationship with plants dramatically changed when I moved to Los Angeles for graduate school in 2018. I began gathering beautiful and unique flowers that crept out from under the 405, closed storefronts, and other forgotten crevices in my LA neighborhood to infuse them into clay hair clips. My handcrafted hair clips are a way to honor these flowers and their plant stories. More than just a slow-fashion-statement accessory, I hope my hair clips promote connection with the city’s natural beauty and challenge others to find innovative uses for local biomaterials while remaining grounded in history. These clips represent my continued education on indigenous plants, mindful gathering practices, and commitment to zero-waste living. You can purchase botanical hair clips at 

Amber Sackett is the founder and creator of Oddflower Creations.

Age, the New Rage

Artist: Bernice Wang (she/they)

Model: Gurmukhi Bevli (she/hers)

This blazer dress records some of the aspects and elements that shape my ever evolving understanding of and relationship to sustainability. I believe that sustainability means something different to each person, especially depending on their privilege or circumstance in life. The piece is a patchwork of influences and my memories that have taught me about sustainability. Whether it is a way of stitching learned from my parents to preserve clothing or a media icon that first called my attention to climate change; I think these are the kinds of things that coalesce in our daily lives and shape our sustainability. A few of my open-ended questions when making the piece: Do we reflect our relationship with sustainability? Do we wear it well? How do we act and move in it? The original idea of this originated in a somatic movement class taught by Julie Tolentino that explored how fabrics and clothing generate dance. We were making our own clothing to dance in and adding fabrics or textures that emphasized our favorite dances or parts of our body. Because we were using scraps and what we each had, I began to think of sustainability as something quite abstract that draws from a multitude of personal and greater history. I then extrapolated from the original prompt to add elements that emphasized what sustainability means to me. All materials used are reused or repurposed.

Bernice Wang is a Taiwanese-American interdisciplinary artist originally trained in traditional art and manga/graphic styles but has branched out to explore more interdisciplinary work. She enjoys the freedom of combining different mediums in unpredictable ways, such as painting with melted wax or sculpting foam with caulk. Additionally, Bernice draws influence from her experience in architectural/industrial design and film, and more recently, in the fundamentals of 2D rigging and digital art. 

Bernice is also trained in classical ballet, modern, and other dance forms – and thus, finds great interest in the intersection between the performing and visual arts. She is the recipient of the Herb Alpert Emerging Young Artist Scholarship (2017) and Ideas in Action Artist (2021).

Lens at Evening

Artist: Alexandra Roosnovo (she/they/him/any)

In “First Wilderness: America’s Wonderland and Indian Removal from Yellowstone National Park.” (1999), Mark Spence detailed how in the creation of national parks there was the implicit assumption of preservation against human presence. Such a mentality meant that Native people and all their activities were considered a dangerous flaw that threatened the purity and success of Yellowstone. My painting is meant to quietly and implicitly challenge these largely western presumptions that permeate our society and individual perceptions of the world today. To me, sustainability is less about recycling and green technology and economic incentives, and more about a fundamental respect and empathy. Humanity (embodied in the foremost central figure) has the capability to rediscover an often forgotten and neglected but nevertheless sacred coexistence with the surrounding world, an existence inherent in human beings that had for generations been practiced in the lifestyle of many marginalized and persecuted groups. The figure looks through a lens to something attainable and familiar, yet simultaneously remote and ethereal. It is the window to an environmental apparition, and the figure shows both awe and ambivalence. Is this a portal to a living memory, a fading legacy, or a mirage of some idyllic and post-modern future? Could it be both? Overseeing this gentle conflict is a female form, a personification of both the Earth itself and the generations of Indigenous people who came to deeply know and respect the Earth, only to be disdained for such a connection. In her, the dichotomy between humanity and nature that we are culturally predisposed to breaks down. These existences are intertwined; we cannot move forward until we recognize this.

Alexandra is an undergraduate student at UCLA, about to complete her BS in Astrophysics with a minor in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. Alexandra grew up in Las Vegas and San Diego, and she often went on long road trips with her family which early on instilled a curiosity and ardor for nature and the multitudinous landscapes across the US. She intends to eventually go to graduate school for planetary science, but hopes to pursue more activity in painting and activism in the interim after graduating from UCLA. Beyond painting, in her free time Alexandra enjoys reading, hiking, and listening to all the new music she can find; she always appreciates a good recommendation and a new perspective.


Artist Name: Raluca Mocanu (she/her/hers)

91% of Romanians believe that packaging is the factor that is most negatively impacting the environment. Plus, buying products imported from all around the world has a significantly higher environmental impact in the form of their carbon footprint. Sadly, nowadays we take them for granted and forget that we have alternatives. This piece is a photography collage designed to incite people to think about the choice they make when buying produce wrapped in plastic. 

Raluca Mocanu is a multi-media artist studying business at UCLA. Born in Romania, she’s explored the world through drawing and painting from a young age, her creative interest also expanding to photography, video, and design along the years. She likes to make use of nostalgia and frankness to both reveal and document the authentic – the good, the bad, and the ugly of life. 

Her work is mostly semi-autobiographical and takes insight from her own life, dreams, and thoughts, but also deep dives into mental health, climate emergency, or other socio-economic issues. She would like her art to remind her audience to remain mindful, grateful, and connected to the world and all its intricacies.

Decommissioned to DRMO

Artist Names: Chaunti Hatchett (she/her/hers), Jacob Ursua (he/him/his)

The uniforms worn by military members are often not thought of as fashionable, but rather utilitarian. This two-dimensional view is also applied to veterans and their families. Whether we are viewed through a lens of violence, anonymity, transience, or respect, often the people and families behind the clothing are forgotten. Our photoshoot was completed at Del Mar Beach: Camp Pendleton, a Marine Corps Base where contributor Chaunti Hatchett spent much of her early childhood. The clothing ranges from utility uniforms of the Navy and Marine Corps to dress outfits only meant to be worn at the most important occasions. Much of the clothing and gear can be found and purchased at Defense Reutilization Marketing Offices (DRMO) after being decommissioned and are excellent for hiking or pops of interesting colors. We hope, after viewing this exhibit, the creativity of a little known group can begin to be appreciated and conversations can be approached concerning the treatment of both veterans, their families, and their clothes after they have all been decommissioned.

Chaunti Hatchett is a first year biochemistry student at UCLA. With a mother in the Marines and a father in the Navy, she moved a lot and was not great at maintaining relationships. She fell in love with books for this reason, and has spent the past six years being educated in professional creative writing and working in publishing firms. Chaunti, after getting over a whole lot of resentment toward the military, began to experiment with heirloom military clothing from both her father and mother, and has started the slow process of finding meaning and culture in a childhood colored by the traumas being military affiliated can bring. For now, she is a happy, thriving, powerful young woman. Check out her creative writing profile at

Jacob Ursua is a first year majoring in Mechanical Engineering. Growing up in a military household, he has been continually exposed to the clothing, equipment, and customs of those in service, and has thus incorporated these quirks in his fashion sense today. To be more specific, modern heavy duty workwear and utility pieces from brands like Carhartt, Dickies, and any military surplus items can be found in his wardrobe. He has also spent the last 5 years studying the art of photography through the medium of 35mm film, which is the method he used for this art installation. Other examples of his work can be found on his Instagram @jufilmphoto

A New Era

Artist Name: Nancy Nan (she/her/hers)

Women of color are often underrepresented when sustainability is discussed, and consequently our cultures are often underrepresented. As a child I was told never to waste, especially when it came to clothing. This is a collection I made through my childhood jeans, showing the reusing of clothing by giving them a new era. Through this art piece, I hope to show that women of color can be part of the forefront of sustainability, and show how my Chinese culture’s emphasis on reusing and reducing waste influenced how I think about sustainable fashion today .

Nancy Nan is a second year geography/environmental studies major interested in photography, sustainability, and fashion. In her free time she likes to sunbathe at the sculpture garden, read cheesy fiction books, and sew.

What He Meant To Say

Artist Name: Cheryl Ma (she/her/hers)

These three poems (attached below) are taken from speeches across US History by three white men, namely Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “Conservation is a National Duty”, John Muir’s, “The case for Saving the American Forests”, and Joe Biden’s “Remarks by President Biden Before Signing Executive Actions on Tackling Climate Change, Creating Jobs, and Restoring Scientific Integrity”.

All three of these speeches and individuals are regarded as central and respectable in regards to environmental protection and the sustainability movement, but all three of these characters have systematically oppressed marginalized communities in their efforts to conserve the environment. Therefore, “What He Meant To Say” highlights the actual meaning behind their words, and is a form of artistic expression by a young, queer, immigrant and woman of color (aka me) who is tired of glorifying old/dead white men who failed to see the connection between underrepresented communities and environmental protection.

Cheryl (she/her), a 4th-year Economics major. She is the vice chair of @tgifucla, where she created the student support fund giving money to students doing unpaid sustainability work. She is also the Director of Operations for @cleanconsultingucla, helped bring the @ucgreennewdeal to UCLA, and supported the campus climate rally on Earth Day. After graduation, she will be doing renewable energy consulting in DC. 

When it comes to sustainability, Cheryl wants to remind people while things like thrifting are amazing, feeling guilty for our individual actions as consumers (i.e. not thrifting, using plastic, eating meat) means the larger polluters are winning. Living sustainably is only a small part of the solution. We must also address larger structures and policies in order to ensure a sustainable future.

Ocean Guide

Artist Name: Isabel Dawson (any pronouns)

In southern China and overseas Chinese communities, there is a goddess to which around 1500 temples are dedicated to. Her name is Mazu and her formal title in Cantonese is Tin How, and she is a sea goddess who is said to protect sailors and fishermen. Many early Chinese immigrants built temples to her as thanks for safe passage to new lands. Those in coastal Chinese areas both historically and contemporarily rely on the ocean for their livelihood. I wanted to highlight the importance of place and how culture is connected to the land and sea where one is from.

Every year, my family goes to the Tin How Temple in San Francisco with offerings of food and incense. My mom’s family is from Hainan Island, and as my grandpa was a fisherman like many in the area, Mazu is an important figure for us. Perhaps this piece is not about “sustainability” as we commonly know it, but the sustaining of traditions over hundreds of years and thousands of miles. The existence of Mazu temples all over the world show our resilience as a people and the importance we place in remembering our roots far across the sea.

Isabel is a third year environmental science major minoring in conservation biology. They are one of the coordinators for the Environmentalists of Color Collective (ECC) and are really interested in both art and the environment, with the ocean being a continuous source of inspiration for their art and writing.