Lifecycle of Common Objects in COA’s Blum Gallery

Posted April 11, 2013, at 5:14 p.m.
Among the pieces on display in the Blum is a graphic of the life cycle of a bike by Alex Pine '14.
Among the pieces on display in the Blum is a graphic of the life cycle of a bike by Alex Pine '14.

Thursday, Jan. 1, 1970 12 a.m. to 12 a.m.

Location: College of the Atlantic - Ethel H. Blum Gallery, 105 Eden Street, Bar Harbor, Maine

For more information: Ryan Bouldin; 207-288-5015;

BAR HARBOR, ME—Last winter, a group of College of the Atlantic students looked into how we get what we use—the basics of material production. The students were in Ryan Bouldin’s class on Industrial Ecology. From April 15 to 19, the college’s Ethel H. Blum Gallery will display graphics and other work revealing the lifecycles of common objects such as an alarm clock and a bicycle. The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

“Industrial ecology examines the relationships between the production of material goods and the effect this process has on humans and the environment,” says Bouldin, who is completing a two-year appointment to COA. “The students examined the process of material production from extraction, processing, production, distribution, and consumer use by quantifying material and energy flows through every step of the cradle to grave process.” They also looked into their own carbon footprint as a small-scale model for understanding what Bouldin calls “the complex balance between satisfying human needs and wants.”

The exhibit in the Blum is a visual display of the impacts and sheer complexity of the network of materials and processes that go into making a simple everyday item. Among the projects are breakdowns of the life cycles for a plastic alarm clock, a pair of shoes, a cordless drill, and a refurbished bike.

Ryan Bouldin teaches chemistry and mathematics at COA. He holds a PhD in chemical engineering from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, a master’s degree in chemical engineering from Tufts University, a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Columbia University and a degree in chemistry from the University of the South.

College of the Atlantic was founded in 1969 on the premise that education should go beyond understanding the world as it is, to enabling students to actively shape its future. A leader in experiential education and environmental stewardship, COA has pioneered a distinctive interdisciplinary approach to learning—human ecology—that develops the kinds of creative thinkers and doers needed by all sectors of society in addressing the compelling and growing needs of our world. For more, visit