Wednesday, May 15, 2013

recycled art

As you know I have begun sculpting a fish out of recyclables and other things found around my home. So, you may ask: “Why a fish?” I find that I have a special love for fish because of my childhood memories of fishing by the sea. “The Fish” also symbolizes for me, the life beneath the sea which is a world that has not been completely discovered ( just like my experience with recycling and art).  Living in west Texas and being from the east coast of Canada has also given me the feeling of being “a fish out of water” of sorts. I can also see myself flopping around trying to get back into the “stream” of consciousness so I can be environmentally useful. Ultimately, the “Fish” symbolizes me going against the “west Texas flow” of culture by being more interested in riding a bike than having a big truck to drive around town in.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The "Art" of Recycling

The “Art” of Recycling
David Bondt

Texas Tech University

The “Art” of Recycling
Americans represent 5% of the world’s population, but generate 30% of the world’s
            For me, this percentage is staggering and represents just another layer of deeper understanding of our waste crisis in the U.S. As I began reading the survey questions in Weintarub's (2012) book, To Life!: Eco Art in Pursuit of a Sustainable Planet (p. 321)  , my awareness was heightened as my own personal waste footprint emerged. I felt so conflicted and saddened about the situation that my first reaction was apathy. In reflection, I realize that it is a normal response to feeling overwhelmed and powerless over such a difficult realization of our planet’s terrible condition and my own contribution to its demise. So, I began brainstorming: What can I do with the waste I create? Can this waste be recycled into my art? As I explored these questions different ideas emerged.
I first began with the necessary research to find out what was available within our own community on recycling. I found on the internet that our main recycling center is on 84th and P along with three other smaller facilities in different areas around town. I then called and made arrangements for a tour and the center was very friendly and receptive. At the center I was able to observe several blue bins that were organized for different recyclables such as paper, plastic, card board and used oil etc. The manager of the recycling center, Mr. Rainwater (cool name!), explained that the materials are sorted and then delivered to different plants to be converted into reusable products. A few examples of this are most plastics are delivered to Jarvis metals to become recycled t-shirts and the aluminum goes through a 60 day process and are back on the grocery shelf for different products such as soft drinks. I also became very interested in this next step of recycling and will soon contact Jarvis Metals to see if I can view this process first hand.
            The next question to tackle on my list was how I can use some of my own household waste to create art. I googled and found many artists who are concerned with a lot of the same things I am and share the importance of recycling and the creative use of it in their art. The one that I found to be most like minded in relation to using home and found materials in art making was Michelle Reader. The materials she collects are discovered in a variety of environments and form a “diary” of our own waste cycle. She explains that: “the materials not only highlight a need to address the amount of waste each of us produces, but also tells the story of each individual through the things they discard” such as “a child’s drawings, a shopping list, and a birthday card.”( Reader, n.d.). I admire her because she try’s “wherever possible to use materials that are reclaimed” and use “things with a history that have been discarded and might otherwise end up in landfill.” (Reader, n.d.) I can see how her sculptures are compelling in the way her subjects are able to view first hand their own personal waste footprint within a certain time frame of their lives. This thought process gave me hope on how to approach my own personal “waste cycle” through humor and innovation.  Viewing her art also gave me a starting point for my own art making and how to use recyclables.
Recently, I have begun to use things found around my home to create a fish sculpture with bamboo, a bike tire, old fencing wire and a burned out dryer heating element. I am not certain what other recyclables I will use however; I will begin with my own “trash” so to speak and see what happens. For me, creating a sculpture is a new experience and I am looking forward to journeying through this process in more ways than one. Like our lives we never know exactly what lies ahead or what tomorrow may bring, similarly my art reflects this unique passage through the usage of recyclables. I find the process of discovery and its unpredictability exciting to my inventive nature.

Reader, M.  Artist statement. Retrieved from

Winetraub, L. (Ed.). (2012). To life!: Eco art in pursuit of a sustainable planet. Berkeley, CA:
University of California Press.