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Chakaia Booker’s Art: Where the Rubber Meets the Road, Part 2

One of the surprising success stories in the world of recycling is that of discarded tires. Of the 303.2 million scrap tires generated in 2007 – that’s one for every person living in the United States – nearly 90 percent by weight were recycled, according to the most recent figures from the U.S Environmental Protection Agency.

More than half of all reclaimed tires in the U.S. are used to fuel factories. They can also be used to treat wastewater, or made into asphalt, playground equipment, carpet padding, shoes — and more tires.

In the hands of Chakaia Booker, they can also become remarkable sculptures. A preferred medium for this New York-based artist, she deconstructs used tires then cuts, shapes and folds them into massive and highly textured shapes with supports made from steel, wood and other materials, which are hidden from view.

Booker’s work first attracted international notice in 2000, when a 12.5′ x 21′ wall relief of shredded and rewoven automobile tires, inner tubes and cow milking pods titled “It’s So Hard to Be Green” was part of the Whitney Biennial. Since then her sculptures have become part of the permanent collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Akron Museum of Art and NASA, among others. She has participated in both group and solo exhibitions in museums and sculpture gardens throughout the US, Japan and the Netherlands. She has received the Pollock-Krasner Grant in 2002 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2005.

It's So Hard to be Green by Chakaia Booker

It’s So Hard to be Green by Chakaia Booker.

Detail: It's So Hard to be Green by Chakaia Booker

Detail: It’s So Hard to be Green by Chakaia Booker.

Working with tires requires special skills. “It takes a lot of body work,” she said when describing how she must first cut through the tires, which each weigh 15 to 20 lbs — and she goes through 1000s of them in her studio, an old laundry facility in Allentown, Pennsylvania. “The tires com from streets and landfills, from cars, vans and trucks.”

Many of her sculptures are exhibited out of doors. Recently, four of her sculptures have been displayed in the median of a major highway, New York Avenue, outside the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington DC from March 8, 2012-April, 2014. This unique installation is the result of the museum’s partnership with several public and private agencies to produce and maintain the exhibit for the enjoyment of both drivers and pedestrians. It is the museum’s second exhibit on this median which is the only public art space in the city featuring installations of contemporary works by women. Images from the Booker exhibit on New York Avenue are below.


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Chakaia Booker, Gridlock, 2008; © Chakaia Booker, courtesy of Marlborough Gallery, New York; Photo credit: Lee Stalsworth.

Booker, is also known for her creative wardrobe and wants her appearance to also be a work of art. She often wears a giant headpiece made from multicolored yarn layered into an oblong mound, colorful fabric or tire rubber that covers all her head but the shape of her face. She said, “When I get up each day, I begin with myself, as far as sculpting myself.” Her sense of unconventional style began early, and goes back to her childhood when she learned to sew and ignored the rules.

Photo of Chakaia Booker by Nelson Tejada.

Photo of Chakaia Booker by Nelson Tejada.

Her online bio is not up-to-date. But you can learn more by watching videos, such as this short talk given in 2008.

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Behind the Scenes: Lost and Found Art Supply Chain

Note from Reena: As a tribute to artists who transform cast-off products into vibrant designs, sometimes enriched with dings and markings of their previous lives, and who often go to great lengths to locate and transport these materials to their studios, we reprint a behind-the-scenes blog we wrote about them in 2011.

Artists who work with found materials recognize the creative potential in discarded materials and transform them into intriguing objects for us to enjoy or use. But finding those materials is not like going to the store to buy a tube of paint. By definition, the supply of found objects depends on the vagaries of nature, both human and environmental.

Like farmers, who despite their best planning and hard work are always at the mercy of the weather, artists recycling or repurposing materials depend on the original owners to throw the objects away in the first place.  Because, here at Eco-Artware we work with designers who create multiples of their original work; we see these market forces at work every day.

Cuff links made with Washington, D.C. Trolley Tokens

Cuff links made with Washington, D.C. Trolley Tokens. Streetcars carried people throughout the city between 1862-1962. They scaled back with the popularity of the automobile and the city eventually switched to buses and a metro system.

For example, old subway and trolley tokens are plentiful when they are discontinued and transit systems first introduce new ones. Once the obsolete ones are snapped up by collectors, the supply dwindles because no more tokens are issued. For instance, we carry cuff links made from Washington, DC trolley tokens which the designers purchased from the D.C. Department of Transportation. But, unlike the Department of Transportation in other cities, they did not purchase old ones from the commuters so the city had no more to sell. Now the designers hunt them from private sources and our supply is uncertain–we just waited for eight months to get a few more pairs in stock.

Boris Bally's Pentatray handmade from a speed limit traffic-sign.

Boris Bally's Pentatray handmade from a speed limit traffic-sign.

Boris Bally's Speed Limit Transit Chair

Boris Bally's Speed Limit Transit Chair.

In the case of Boris Bally’s popular traffic-sign home furnishings, he can only make as many chairs and trays as there are retired signs. If a highway department decides to keep its Speed Limit signs up a little bit longer, Boris has to make them out of, say, directional signs until the Speed Limit signs are finally available to him.

Expandable bracelet made from ostrich shells by Namibian Bushmen with a black accent bead.

Expandable bracelet made from ostrich shells by Namibian Bushmen with a black accent bead.

And now the long arm of the law of supply and demand is reaching into ostrich farms. Namibian farmers used to donate shells from hatched ostrich eggs to local Bushmen (members of the San tribe) who have made jewelry with them for thousands of years.  Their donations provided bushmen with a livelihood and helped them preserve their culture and way of life.

San women making beads from ostrich shells using traditional techniques

San women making beads from ostrich shells using traditional techniques.

Now most farmers have found other uses for the shells and no longer donate them to the bushmen. Until they can find another source of income, missionaries are donating food to these tribes while helping them acquire new skills and adjust to changing times. However, there is a limited supply and we carry their bracelets when available.

Artists who rely on the discards of others face a continuing challenge to collect materials. That’s what makes these objects so dear to us. They are the expression of the artist’s creativity with what’s available. All we need is the long view and patience.

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New Exhibit says ENOUGH Violence

It seems that we hear news about new murderous attacks with guns daily. In fact, one in 20 U.S. students is directly impacted by violence — either as a victim or an offender.

To grapple with the problem, Pittsburgh’s Society for Contemporary Craft developed a new exhibit, ENOUGH Violence: Artists Speak Out. Through 48 contemporary works by 14 artists from the U.S., Italy and Scotland, it explores how violence affects our lives and asks what we can do to combat it.

The artists, who work in clay, metals, fabric, photography, and found objects, focus on issues of violent crimes, gang violence, war, terrorism, and domestic abuse. Selecting crafts to explore a serious social problem is an unusual idea because most people associate these media with decorative and functional objects. The artists’ reaction to gun crimes expressed in these media provides us unusual and fresh ways to see the problem.

Loaded Menorah, 2013 by Boris Bally.

Loaded Menorah, 2013 by Boris Bally. 12″ wide by 37.5″ long x 11″ tall. Materials: altered hand-guns, gun barrels and silver.

This exhibit contains works by two artists who work with found materials. It contains three pieces by Rhode Island metalsmith Boris Bally, who has been interested in anti-violence art since the early 1990s. In 1997 he curated a show at Carnegie Mellon University that challenged artists to create sculptures out of decommissioned handguns obtained from buyback programs.

“Loaded Menorah” is made entirely of disabled weapons. In it, nine revolver barrels rising from a tangle of weapons have mouths finished in light polished silver cups to receive the Chanukah candles.

“I am reminded of the famous picture of George Harris sticking carnations into gun barrels during a 1967 anti-war demonstration at the Pentagon,” he said.

Brave lll: Necklace, 2013 by Boris Bally.

Brave lll: Necklace, 2013 by Boris Bally. 17″ x 15″ x 1.75″ 100 handgun triggers (steel) mounted on stainless cord. Silver. Gold.

Brave 4: Breast Plate, 2013 by Boris Bally.

Brave 4: Breast Plate, 2013 by Boris Bally. 26″ x 11.5″ x 2″ Gun-triggers, gun-bolts and gun-barrels (steel) and brass shells, mounted on stainless cord. Silver.

Minnesota fiber artist Beth Barron says her work is a monument to the human spirit and a “wish for wholeness.” She created “Implosion” from Band-Aids found in parks, playgrounds and sidewalks. For her, the found Band-Aids become an enigmatic metaphor: Do they represent pain or healing?

Implosion 1, 20009 by Beth Barron.

Implosion 1, 20009 by Beth Barron. 52″ diameter. Hand stitched found band-aids.

While working she said she has time to contemplate how we heal ourselves “…after personal or social devastation, whether our healed scars protect us in some new stronger way, and how fragile or resilient we will be once we have been wounded.”

It took about a year to complete “Implosion.” Barron hand-sewed each Band-Aid to a ground cloth, stiffened on the back with matte acrylic paint “to keep the knots from being untied.” She sometimes spent 10 hours a day working, although she sometimes skipped days before getting back to it.

The exhibit also includes a physical space in The Society’s Drop-In Studio for visitors to create their own personal talisman to take with them. A public Tumblr collection allows people to tell their own stories about their experiences with violence and participate in suggestions for creating a solution.

Visit the Society for Contemporary Craft’s website for more information about the exhibit, which closes March 22, 2014.

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Nick Bubash’s Many, Many Artistic Hats

Black and white photo of Nick Bubash

Nick Bubash in his studio. A few masks, collected on his travels, are displayed on the wall behind him. Photo by John Wyatt

Nick Bubash is a trained artist who works in many different media. He started young and took art classes on Saturdays when he was growing up in Pennsylvania. He studied art at Pennsylvania State University, but before graduating he moved to New York City.

By chance, he went to get his first tattoo from Thom DeVita, who also created assemblages and collages. Bubash, who immediately felt comfortable with the artist and his ideas, stayed in New York to learn the art of tattooing from DeVita from 1969-1974. He left to open his own tattoo shop in Pennsylvania.

With DeVita’s encouragement, he resumed formal art training in the 1980s. He attended the Pennsylvania Academy of The Fine Arts, where he graduated with highest honors and won prizes in for figurative sculpture, printmaking and a scholarship to study and travel in India.

Returning to the U.S., Bubash opened a tattoo studio in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in a small two-story office building. Here he also creates assemblages from finds from travels to small markets in India, thrift stores, yard sales and pieces of his daughter’s broken toys. He also has a studio for painting and clay sculpting.

Bubash also tattoos almost every day of the week — a skill which draws on his extensive training and study to create the infinite variety of styles and ideas requested by his clients.

Self Portrait by Nick Bubash

“Self Portrait” by Nick Bubash. 3′ x 2.5′ Composed of shells, peacock feathers, porcupine quills, pearls, fur ad cow vertebrae mounted on paper. Bubash has created several self portraits because he said, “The model always shows up.”

Bubash is currently exhibiting 33 sculptural assemblages at the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh through September 15, and two mixed media pieces and a drawing with watercolor in the Tory Folliard Gallery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, through August 31. For the past 25 years, his work has been included in numerous permanent museum collections, including The Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and private collections across the country.

Long Awaited Arrival by Nick Bubash

“Long Awaited Arrival.” Assemblage by Nick Bubash. 12″ x 18″ x 20″. The base is 18″ x 12″ wide. Bubash created the walnut base to fit his assemblage. The composition consists of marbles, porcupine quills, children’s blocks, an old wooden toy car, copper flowers. Bubash sculpted the torso. The elephant head is readymade from rubber; Bubash sculpted an addition to the trunk to make it longer.

To learn more about Nick Bubash, visit his website.

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David Emitt Adams’ Photographic Conversations with History

Note from Reena: An artist friend, who lives in Virginia, discovered David Emitt Adams’ images on the web and sent the link to me. I am also moved by his gift for telling a story through simple artifacts and his technical skills — an array of historic photographic techniques — to visually embellish the objects to link them to their past. I’m happy to be able to share this statement and images from his website with Eco-Artware-Notes readers.

Traces 10

I was born in Yuma, Arizona, in 1980. By the time I was an adult, the Arizona desert was far from that once documented by Timothy O’Sullivan.

Shadow with Cans

Never have I known this landscape without roads, homes, buildings or urban sprawl. This notion of land untouched by the hand of man is so foreign it might as well be make-believe. As long as people have been in the American West, we have found its barren desert landscapes to be an environment perfect for dumping and forgetting.

Traces 17
The deserts of the West also have special significance in the history of photography. I have explored this landscape with an awareness of the photographers who have come before me, and this awareness has led me to pay close attention to the traces left behind by others. For this body of work, I collect discarded cans from the desert floor, some over four decades old, which have earned a deep reddish-brown, rusty patina. This patina is the evidence of light and time, the two main components inherent in the very nature of photography.

Traces 4

I use these objects to speak of human involvement with this landscape and create images on their surfaces through a labor-intensive 19th-century photographic process known as wet-plate collodion. The result is an object that has history as an artifact and an image that ties it to its location. These cans are the relics of the advancement of our culture, and become sculptural support to what they have witnessed.

David Emitt Adams is a photographer who lives in Arizona. He received an M.F.A. in Photography from the University of Arizona where he currently teaches as an adjunct faculty member. His work has been exhibited in museums and galleries throughout the U.S., and he is currently a resident artist in Lehon, France.

For additional information, visit David Emitt Adams’ website. He is represented by the Etherton Gallery.

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Vollis Simpson, Found Materials Artist, Dies at 94

Vollis Simpson working on a whirligig. Photo by Burke Uzzle.

Vollis Simpson working on a whirligig. Photo by Burke Uzzle.

Vollis Simpson, a self-taught artist who lived in Lucama, North Carolina, died at his home on May 31, 2013. He was internationally known for his idiosyncratic, wind-powered whirligigs (he called them windmills) made from old fans, washing machine parts, recycled steel, aluminum and other industrial salvage. “I had a lot of junk and had to do something with it,” he once said.

Simpson started out fixing things that broke down on the farm where he grew up. A self-taught engineer, he built his first windmill using a junked B-29 bomber to power a washing machine in Saipan, where he was stationed during the WWII. He worked in the equipment repair business after he returned from the service.

Close up of a whirligig decoration by Vollis Simpson

Close up of a whirligig decoration by Vollis Simpson.

Simpson started a house-moving business in 1985, building his own tow-trucks to move the houses. He also began using junked equipment parts to build huge wind-powered machines — some up to 60 feet tall — in his spare time. One windmill powered a heating system for his home.

Simpson’s work became known to a wider world when Rebecca Alban Hoffberger, founder of the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, invited him to provide a permanent outdoor sculpture for the museum’s opening in 1995. He came up with one you can’t miss — three stories high, it weighs three tons and is covered with highway reflectors so it can be seen both night and day.

A group of Simpson's kinetic sculptures.

A group of Simpson’s kinetic sculptures.

Subsequently, Simpson’s client list extended to include four sculptures for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta; a Christmas window for New York City’s Bergdorf Goodman department store to design in 2009; a shopping center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the American Folk Art Museum in New York City.

All work remaining on his farm will be moved and exhibited in the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park, scheduled to open in November in Wilson, North Carolina, about 10 miles from his home. The North Carolina legislature has approved a measure making whirligigs the state’s official folk art.


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Dumpster Artists

While a growing number of craftsmen are working with other people’s discards, Recology, a California resource recovery company, actually pays artists to turn trash into art.

<em>Crazy Quilt</em> by Remi Rubel.  1991. Built from bottlecaps and other metal objects

“Crazy Quilt” by Remi Rubel. 1991. Built from bottlecaps and other metal objects.

In 1990 Recology began a unique art and education program. The company selected artists to work full time for four months in a large, well-equipped studio next to its transfer station in San Francisco. The transfer station is located within a 46-acre property that includes several recycling facilities and the public disposal area (aka “the dump”). Most of San Francisco’s garbage  is temporarily stored at this site before moving on to a landfill elsewhere in California.
Recology changed its name from Norcal Waste Systems in 2009 to reflect its corporate culture and values. More than a private, employee-owned waste management company, the company wants to encourage people to reuse material, think about new ways to conserve resources, and support local, professional artists.

Mum - Sea Breeze 2012 by Karrie Hovey

“Mum — Sea Breeze” by Karrie Hovey. 2012. Made from books, latex paint, particle board, and a metal table ring.

Artists are selected by an advisory board of environmentalists, artists and curators; each recipient receives a $1,000 monthly grant to cover basic personal bills.

<em>Audrey Hepburn Dress</em> by Estelle Akamine. 1993. Made from foam sheets, plastic bags, six-pack holders

“Audrey Hepburn Dress” by Estelle Akamine. 1993. Made from foam sheets, plastic bags, six-pack holders.

At the end of each residency, the company holds a free public reception and exhibition of the artist’s work in the company’s studio. As visitors enter, they are confronted with a mountain of trash. They then see how imagination turns discards into meaningful objects. 
The artists roam the  public disposal area with shopping carts, collecting different types of trash. One may look for furniture, trinkets, photos and other personal objects, for found object collages, while another looks for raw materials such as wood, painted metal or wire for assemblage.

3711 x 13510 by Zachary Royer Scholz. 2010. Constructed from pine and paint

“3711 x 13510” by Zachary Royer Scholz. 2010. Constructed from pine and paint.

Some of the trash art is exhibited permanently in Recology’s three-acre sculpture garden atop a hill overlooking the San Francisco Bay. The garden is located between the garbage and recycling facilities and the Little Hollywood neighborhood. Many pieces from the program are also exhibited in office buildings, schools and other public or private spaces in the city. The garden is a stop for students on one of the 160 tours held throughout the year. 

A new exhibit, “The Art of Recology” can now be seen in the United Terminal at the San Francisco International Airport. Celebrating the Recology San Francisco Artist in Residence program, it presents over 100 works by 45 artists, made during the time they worked in the studio at the Solid Waste Transfer and Recycling Facility. It will be on public view through October 27. Below are images of art included in this exhibit.

Styrofoam Hummer H1 by Andrew Junge

“Styrofoam Hummer H1 (low mileage, always garaged)” by Andrew Junge. 2005. Constructed from styrofoam, lumber and steel.

Last Dive at the Farallones by Ethan Estess

“Last Dive at the Farallones: 100,000 marine mammals killed per year” by Ethan Estess. 2012. Created with wood, Styrofoam, wood flooring adhesive, super glue, screws, and rope.

To learn more, visit the Recology website.

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Seat Assignment: High Altitude Art

Nina Katchadourian is an American artist who works in many media —photography, video and sculpture, to mention a few. She often travels throughout the US and around the world for art projects and exhibitions of her work, as well as to teach, lecture and visit her far-flung family.
She began a series of photographs, digital images, video and sound called Seat Assignment in 2010 spontaneously, on a trip between New York to Atlanta. Instead of experiencing the flight passively as simply a means to get from point A to point B, she decided to use the time and space to create art. Her props were restricted to travelers’ supplies found on the plane and those she normally brings in carry-on bags.

The project comes from what Katchadourian calls her “optimism about the artistic potential that lurks within the mundane.”

After a year into the Seat Assignment project, in 2011 she began working on a series of Flemish-style self-portraits which she took in airplane lavatories, dressing up in costumes created on the spot. For instance, crinkled tissue paper seat protector covers became a lace-like head covering and collar; a case from the in-flight pillow became a hat; and her black traveling shawl became a backdrop. Trying not to inconvenience fellow passengers while spending 10-15 minutes at a time in the restroom, she did this when most people were sleeping.

A few Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style by Nina Katchadourian.

A few Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style by Nina Katchadourian. Courtesy of the artist and the Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco.

Katchadourian prefers to use the a cell phone camera, with limited technical capabilities, rather than a standard camera because she doesn’t want anyone to pay attention to what she is doing.”I’m much more interested in looking like someone who’s just bored and trying to pass the time messing around with her phone,” she said. “It lets me get away with a lot more to do it on the phone.”

She reviews and selects images to be included in her series after leaving the plane. None of her images are significantly altered after they are taken. Other themes include portraits of people reflected in seatbelt buckles, images of her sweater folded to resemble a gorilla, and sculptural mini-provisional shelters from stacked crackers, used food packaging and folded paper.

Left to right: A Bucklehead Portrait, A Sweater Gorilla, and an image from the Athletics series by Nina Katchadourian.

Left to right: A Bucklehead Portrait, A Sweater Gorilla, and an image from the Athletics series by Nina Katchadourian. Courtesy of the artist and the Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco.

Katchadourian has continued to explore new ways to work with a limited number of materials while flying, without drawing attention to herself or what she is doing. As of March 2013, she has created thousands of images during more than 90 flights and discovered that many can be organized into themes, although she works on many ideas and different styles of images during one flight. She derives landscapes and unusual creatures by arranging images torn from in-flight magazines in a composition flat on her tray table — occasionally she will add orange peels, peanuts, lifesavers or other random textures — and then takes a picture of it.

A cross section of the entire Seat Assignment series can be seen in the above video and on her website. Courtesy of the artist and the Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco.

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The Beauty of Disposable Objects

Sculptor Morgan MacLean sees beauty in then paper bags and plastic water bottles that litter our streets and landscapes.

Because most of us have lived with them all our lives and have become dependent on them, we take these carriers for granted. The paper grocery bag was invented in 1852 to make life more convenient for shoppers who didn’t have to remember cloth bags. Plastic milk containers and bottles became popular with manufacturers in the early 1960s because they were less expensive to produce and ship than glass bottles.

Lucretia by Morgan MacLean

“Lucretia” – 9” x 7” x 16” by Morgan MacLean. The artist often names his work after the places where he finds the discard “models.”

Work in progress in Morgan MacLean's studio.

Work in progress in Morgan MacLean’s studio.

MacLean has been interested in design and coaxing shapes from different materials most of his life. In high school, he was an apprentice in a glass studio. After majoring in sculpture at the Rhode Island School of Design, MacLean made architectural models in architect Frank Gehry’s office in California, where he now lives and works in his own sculpture studio.

Olive (L) and Warren (R) by Morgan MacLean

“Olive” – 5” x 4” x 4” (left) and “Warren” (right) 10” x 6” x 2” (right) by Morgan MacLean.

MacLean’s Urban Remnants series, an homage to the design and form of products behind our cash-and-carry culture, presents abstracted disposable containers carved in sustainably grown and harvested wood. His work, intended to raise public awareness about shapes and habits taken for granted, also has affected his family. Recently his young daughter handed him an empty container and said, “You can make this into a sculpture.”

Catherine & Devoe by Morgan MacLean

“Catherine & Devoe” – 44” x 30” x 20” (each), by Morgan MacLean.

It is ironic that MacLean’s memorials to our disposable, mass-produced, tossed-out containers are painstakingly made by hand with hand saws, chisels and rasps. The process is also time-consuming: It takes two months of working at least eight hours a day to create one bag approximately the same size as an original — an elegantly designed heirloom representing our current culture.

Visit Morgan McLean’s website to see more of his work.

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Sarah Turner’s 21st Century Art from Discards

Sarah Turner, a British artist known for creating lighting and sculpture from discarded plastic soda bottles, is becoming known through her commissions displayed in popular public spaces.

Sarah Turner Coca Cola chandelier

Chandelier for the 2012 Olympics made from 190 used plastic Coca Cola bottles by Sarah Turner.

For the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, she created five 6-1/2-foot-tall chandeliers, one 29-1/2-foot-tall sculpture and fifteen 16-inch-by-12-inch floral centerpieces from recycled Coca Cola bottles for the company’s hospitality pavilion. The company was pleased with the results, and after the Olympics, she has continued to create more centerpieces for Coca Cola.

Turner is among a growing number of artists who prefer working with waste materials rather than unused ones.

“I find it a greater challenge,” she said. “I try my best to use as little new materials as possible in my work.”

Sarah Turner Coke hospitality sculpture

Sarah Turner’s 29-1/2 foot sculpture for Coca Cola’s hospitality pavilion at the London Olympics. It is made from thousands of hand cut pieces of waste bottles and cans. The pieces are individually tied onto invisible wires in the form of a diver in three different stages of a high dive. The pieces spin when a breeze catches the wires.

As a child, Turner made things from discards, and the interest continued. In school, she began experimenting with plastic bottles and, because she worked in a coffee shop that served soft drinks, she brought home two large bags of empty bottles diverted from the trash each day. She elected to write a dissertation on recycling after studying Furniture and Product Design in college.

Sarah Turner Langham Hotel centerpiece

Floral Centerpieces from Coca Cola bottles by Sarah Turner.

Viewers may not realize that Turner’s work begins in the trash bin, because she transforms each bottle from transparent to opaque by sandblasting. “This makes the material feel a lot more high- quality and diffuses light well,” she said. She sometimes dyes the bottles bright colors and then cuts and sculpts them into intricate forms.

In addition to teaching part-time at Nottingham Trent University, where she went to school, Turner is currently working on commissions to create a large chandelier that looks like flowers and additional chandeliers made with melted plastic bottles for an exhibit, Eco Build at the Excel London in March. She will also exhibit at Tent London for this year’s Design Festival in September 2013.

Working with discards provides a double whammy for her work — transformed trash enhances the message propelling her works.

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