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Recycled Art competition is thought provoking about trash

By: Linda Griffith

There is an unusual exhibit in CPCC’s Pease auditorium this month. It's relevant on many levels, especially this time of year as waste piles up in the wake of frenzied unwrapping and empty boxes towering precariously next to the trash can. It seems appropriate that the exhibit is made up of artworks entirely constructed from recyclable materials. 

America Recycles Day is celebrated at CPCC with art in the quad, a project spearheaded last year by Phi Theta Kappa which has adopted “Keep America Beautiful” as the society’s service hallmark. It continued this year through work by the Service-Learning department.

The art department was so encouraged by the turnout and level of artwork, that they decided to take things further. Collaboration between the art department and Service-Learning has resulted in this most unusual and greatly entertaining exhibit made up of works by local professional artists as well as CPCC students.
It is a juried exhibit and Peggy Rivers, CPCC art instructor, has been instrumental in raising awareness amongst the students and energizing the contributors. The result is a fascinating twist on things we don’t pay attention to in our everyday lives, but use and discard and never think twice about. Perhaps that is the underlying success of the show – it provokes thought and what could be a better topic to ponder over than recycling as our planet appears to be in such peril.

The exhibit, open from 10 – 3 p.m., is juried with prizes awarded to both students and professionals in separate categories. Alongside each piece is an indication of its placing. It is well worth a trip, and if you are in the market, many of the pieces are for sale, don’t forget Christmas is right around the corner.

My personal favorite is a magnificent tree, made out of tiny cubes of glass, it looks like shattered windscreen glass but the effect is amazing as the greenish-white light is quite magical. The tree is almost like a Bonzai tree, fully formed, but on a miniature scale. Titled “The Art is the Light,” Laura Bhayani made a perfectly spectacular piece out of one medium – glass.

Although each piece is eye-catching either because of color or shape or construction, a work you cannot fail to notice and be drawn towards is that of David Edgar. He has made three brilliantly colored fish which seem to be speeding through the ocean of the back wall and are perfectly set off against the white background. Each has a name and is somewhat whimsically distorted. The Snub-nosed Green Feeder is rather fierce looking with a clear belly full of multicolor bits and pieces. The Shimmering Red Ann Hammerhead is less ferocious with a snout made of an Arm and Hammer baking soda box. They are a threesome nothing short of spectacular and one would be hard pressed not to appreciate their vivid colors and ingenious use of plastic.

In the far back right corner alongside a paint spattered, distorted child’s bicycle by Madalyn Cowan, hangs a falling structure resembling something out of Dante’s Inferno. It is titled “On Mortality,” and the cascading assortment of household bits and pieces gives me the impression that we are just clinging on and that the devil is really sucking us down. Perhaps what helped dramatize this effect was the ruler-length white skeleton a left-over from Halloween, who is precariously dangling down near the bottom. A white stuffed bear, torn cocktail umbrellas, a bright green plastic watch might all be interpreted as sending the message, “look out, it’s great now but unless we take care of things, there’s only one way to go.” That was certainly my impression.

Many of the exhibits are light-hearted and brought a smile to my face. A beautiful collage of a tree, by Robert Williams, made from cut-up pieces of wine- bottle corks caught my eye and gave me a great idea of what to do with our amassed collection of corks over the holiday period.

The piece that struck me the hardest is to the left of the entrance door. It is a little robot-looking creature, with a pear shaped plastic skirt and an inverted milk-gallon as a head giving it an almost alien resemblance. The little arms are outstretched and holding a ball painted to resemble the globe, as if pleading and entreating us to take notice and better care. Kim Hoover somehow managed to get her figure to look so lifelike, and the scales balancing across it’s shoulder underline the delicacy of our situation. Her title sums things up perfectly; “Change is in Our Hands.”

It really is, and more than that - thought provoking, the exhibition is truly enjoyable and well worth a visit. It isn’t often that one can enjoy such a sober warning.