NEWBURY —  In an address to the Newburyport Rotary Club recently, Elena Bachrach, the executive director of the Newburyport Art Association, talked about how the arts can and will provide “new and imaginative tools to crack what are becoming increasingly complex challenges.”

One week later, as if to validate Bachrach’s comments, Carol Baum, lifelong artist and teacher, unveiled her “Trash Tower” on the grounds of the Newbury Elementary School. “It is a public art project,” she said, “using art to change people’s behavior.”

Indeed, supported by sturdy cedar columns framing four Lexan plastic panels, the tower stands 12 feet high by 3.5 feet square capped by a Lexan top ready to accept the litter that artist Baum will collect on her weekly excursion around her neighborhood.

“This tower is front and center,” she said. “It is the culmination of 21/2 years of work, and I hope that it will raise public awareness to stop littering.”

Last Wednesday, teachers, administrators, citizens and a large group of students from Newbury Elementary School, Whittier Vocational Technical School and Triton Regional High School gathered on the front lawn of the Newbury Elementary School to dedicate the completion of the tower. 

Baum thanked the students for their ideas and for coming up with the idea for the bulletin board which stands alongside the tower.

“It was their idea to make a collage of the weekly lists of litter that I had collected, post the amount of time it takes for items to decompose and to include a chalk board for citizen comments,” she said.

Baum read aloud the names of the students who contributed to the project. From Whittier Vocational Technical School who built the tower: Padro Baez, Adolfo Bello, Mathew Cox, Jonathan Davie, Alex Figueroa, Fidel Figueroa, Cody Languirand, Kelsey Locke, Ryan Lussier, Rafael Martinez, Ken McArdle, Brandon Merrill, Nicholas Mustone, William O’Donnell, Benjamin Parisien, Joshua Roman, Cassie Scaglione, Corey Silva, Mark Tyczynski, Justice Vertigans, and Richard Zagarella.

From Triton Regional High School who designed the chalk/bulletin board: Kayla Bastolla, Erin Brown, Rene Dolloff, Christophe Gardella, Mcgaughren Gilbert, Jessica Giradin, Trent Harriott, Alyssa Lawson, Ashleigh Litcofsky, Madeline McCrae, Sarah McLellan, Arelis Mercado, Brandon Owens, Erina Savage, Kyle Traver, Julia Tummino and Allison Witham.

Putting on plastic gloves, the students began filling the tower with the latest aggregation of litter using the lowest of three plastic doors which grace the side of the tower. The pile included many recyclable plastic bottles, aluminum cans, glass bottles, fast food packaging, trash bags and nails for a nail gun.

“The project will be successful if the tower is never filled,” Baum said. “Then the art work, this sculpture, will have worked to change people’s behavior.”

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