While trying to figure out what I was going to blog about this month, I realized Earth Day falls on the same week as my post—it’s coming up this Friday, April 22nd! Naturally, my thoughts turned to the 1990s television show Captain Planet, a cartoon about an environmentalist superhero (Captain Planet) and 5 kids with the powers of earth, wind, fire, water, and heart (my personal favorite). Together, the gang fought crime and pollution and continuously restored peace and order on earth. I spent a large portion of my childhood watching Captain Planet re-runs—my parents liked that it encouraged environmental responsibility, and I liked to watch anything with superheroes. So, after day dreaming about saving the planet, I promptly forgot to continue my blogging brainstorm.
A couple of days later, I was in the galleries listening to a lecture, when I noticed that several of the artists incorporated recyclable materials into their work. I decided to scour the rest of the museum to see if I could find other instances of recycling. To my delight, I was able to find several examples, some of which, I’ve included below. I really like the idea of using recyclable material or re-contextualizing found objects to make a new work of art. Not only is it good for the environment, but re-using objects can often offer another layer of interpretation or understanding to a work of art. Making art out of recycled materials isn’t just for the professionals—there are plenty of fun things that you can do at home. I’ve included some of my favorite projects, but I challenge you to come up with some other ideas, too!
Here is a selection of the works on view that incorporate recycled materials:
In the Center for Creative Connections, the new community partner response installation Sculpting Space: 299 Chairs is currently on view. Designed by the Skyline Architecture Cluster, this installation is made up of chairs from three local schools. After the installation, these chairs will be donated to a local library.
In the Concentrations 54: Matt Connors and Fergus Feehily exhibition, many of Feehily’s works are made out of found or recycled objects. One example is his 2009 work Provisionall, which consists of oil on paper paintings inside of found frames.
Mark Handfouth’s Untitled (Dallas Snake) from 2007 is on view in the Sculpture Garden. Handforth’s sculpture is made out of steel, aluminum, and a street lamp that he collected from hurricane debris.
Frank Gehry designed a series of chairs called Easy Edges in the 1970s. Interested in using “green” practices, Gehry constructed these chairs out of out of layers of corrugated cardboard, a recyclable material. One of these chairs is on view in the Formed/ Unformed exhibition.
You can also make art from recyclable materials at home! Try some of these fun projects:
- Old newspapers can be cut into strips and used for paper-mache or collaged together with magazine cutouts!
- Toilet paper tubes and paper towel rolls can be cut into fun shapes, covered with peanut butter, and rolled in birdseed to create one-of-a-kind bird feeders.
- Recycled boxes can be transformed into a ton of different projects: put several large boxes together to make a fort, make furniture for stuffed animals or dolls out of cereal boxes, or stack different sized boxes together to make a city-skyline.
- Paint empty egg cartons and use them to organize, jewelry, office supplies, or golf balls.
- Wash milk cartons, glue ends together, and paint with bright colors to make homemade blocks!
- String together pop-tabs from coke cans or extra buttons to make fun jewelry.
- Glue rinsed bottle caps to pieces of magnet to add some pizzazz your refrigerator!
As Captain Planet would say, “the power is yours” to save the planet…and make art. Happy E(ART)h Day!!
posted by: Jackie