Monday, February 11, 2013

Trash Transformed

I've been thinking a lot about our consumption, waste, landfills and global warming lately and how we all own this problem as citizens of planet earth.  When Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth said something to the effect of If we don't solve this problem, we won't have any others to solve it sunk in deep.  I think about this when I use new resources in my work and have been trying to incorporate re-purposed materials when possible.  The corundum in using recycled materials in art is that the art often looks like trash.       

Here are some artists who've successfully use recycled materials, but managed to transform the material beyond it's intended initial purpose.  

Anna Hepler, The Great Haul, made from sewn sheet plastic and tarps hanging 22 feet

John Bisbee, Installation view of (front to back) Plode, Rove and Stick, each one ton of welded 12" spikes

El Anatsui, Dusasa II, made of liquor bottle caps, at the Metropolitan Museum in NYC

Chakaia Booker, It’s So Hard To Be Green, rubber tire, wood 150 x 252 x 24 inches

And if you haven't see the film Waste Land, about the photographer Vik Muniz's project involving Brazilian garbage pickers at a huge landfill in Rio de Janeiro, it's well worth seeing.

While I was teaching an Introduction to Sculpture Course at UNH last semester, I though I'd challenge the students with this assignment as a final project...

Transformation Project

95% of materials must be recycled, re-purposed or natural, nothing bought 

5% of materials may be bought: to adhere, join, attach, mount, affix 

The materials must transform their intended purpose 

This will be a site specific work. The location of the work must be and ‘intervention’ and will be photographed, by you, in it’s location.

The students rose to the occasion.  Here are some images of their work on location.  

Bess made a bench out of old jeans, shoes and wood from discarded palettes.

Charlotte made a life size squirrel out of pine cones.  

   Jessica installed a hanging sculpture made out of the inside hammers of a piano.

Riddy used newspaper and cardboard to create an outdoor installation of hanging books.  

Sara created a cobra made of coke cans and pull tabs.  

Sonja used pieces from an old Where's Waldo puzzle to re-create a Waldo and took pictures of him all over campus.  

Sydney used old cardboard to create a table and 2 folding chairs that actually fold.  

Danielle created a dress made of an aluminum turkey tray and pages from a recipe book. 

Carson made a sphere made of recycled paper, egg cartons, plastic bottles an cardboard.  

Brittany made a NO SMOKING sign out of old butts and cigarette boxes.  Yes, it smelled.  

Gillian made an abstract coil sculpture out of coat hangers and old assignments.