Duane Bonifer  |   Published April 05, 2022

Showing the ‘AFTR MATH’ of Drunken Driving

Emily Henson’s art installation sends a powerful message about drunken driving’s consequences by combining a junked car, red Solo Cups and used alcohol beverage cans.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – For the final project in her art class, Monmouth College student Emily Henson ’23 created an installation that is both provocative and arresting in showing the aftermath of drunken driving.

Henson, a business major and art minor from Geneseo, Illinois, turned 230 cans and cups and a Pontiac Vibe from an area junkyard into a statement about the perils and consequences of drunken driving.

Henson installed the piece, AFTR MATH, on the College’s Campus Quadrangle on Tuesday morning. The work – which was part of an assignment for art professor Stacy Lotz’s “Sculpture: Multiples & Installations” class – will be on display for 48 hours.

The 230 alcohol cans and red Solo Cups – which are held together by fishing line – represent the number of U.S. kids who have been killed this year in drunken driving accidents.

“I was just going through things I could use one day, and I came upon wine corks,” said Henson. “Then I just started thinking about alcohol and I was like, ‘Oh, drunk driving – that’s a very serious matter.’ So I came up with this idea.”

Lotz said that when Henson discussed the idea of creating a piece that dealt with drunken driving with classmates, someone suggested that she “get a car.”

“I don’t even know who said it, but someone said, ‘You ought to get a car,’” said Lotz. “And then Emily’s eyes got really big, and she said, ‘I can get a car.’ The next thing you know, she’s getting a car and making all the contacts on campus to get it here.”

Henson’s boyfriend, Tylor Miller ’22 of Galesburg, Illinois, helped her acquire a junked car from an area junkyard.

“We got to damage it up a little bit for the project,” she said.

Henson added red Solo Cups and “dumpster dived” to collect used alcohol beverage cans. She strung together 115 red Solo Cups and 115 cans with fishing line, then attached them to the car’s steering wheel where they spilled over the driver’s seat and onto the ground.

“I came up with the idea of stringing them to the steering wheel to represent that those are the things that are controlling the driving rather than the person,” said Henson.

Lotz said that Henson’s final project is a “fabulous piece.”

And Henson said that creating the installation has been a good experience.

“I’m just thankful that I got the opportunity to do it. It’s really impactful, I think,” she said.

Emily Henson ?23 of Geneseo, Illinois, makes adjustments to her installation ?AFTR MATH,? which s...

Emily Henson ’23 of Geneseo, Illinois, makes adjustments to her installation “AFTR MATH,” which she created for her “Sculpture: Multiples & Installations” class.

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