That's Not Garbage, It's Art! (Recycling Renaissance)

By Arthur, Lisa | Arts & Activities, June 2001 | Go to article overview

That's Not Garbage, It's Art! (Recycling Renaissance)


Arthur, Lisa, Arts & Activities


International school teachers move a lot. Every few years, we pack up all of our earthly possessions and send them on to our new country and begin to think about what life will be like at our new schools.

I moved from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to Manila, Philippines, in August 2000. I brought with me several cubic meters worth of what could best be described as "stuff." When my crates arrived, I began to unpack, put my things away and make my new house my home.

When everything was in its proper place, I looked in my living room and was confronted by a mountain of boxes and wooden palettes. I looked at the refuse from my move and thought it would be a shame to throw it all out, but what could be done with it? Art teachers are said to never throw anything away and I am no exception. I bundled the stuff up and shoved it into a back room of my house, certain that I would find some use for it

Several weeks later, I went to the school library and checked out the latest copy of Artnews. I was flipping through it and saw an advertisement for Frank Stella's latest show. The work had that "Stella look" to it but was a bit unique, as it was made up of cut wooden shapes, painted in bright colors and patterns and then pieced together to make a collage. "That's it!" I said to myself.

The next day, I hauled all of the materials left over from my move into school and scattered them about the art room. I saw the project clearly in my head, but was not sure how to relate it to my high-school level "Introduction to Art" students.

I collected as many slides of Stella's work as I could find and presented them to my class. I then explained how we would use the palettes as a base and then add painted and cut-out pieces of cardboard with glue guns, staple guns and nails. I also suggested the students choose a theme and base their Stella-esque assemblage on that theme.

Some of the students chose representational themes such as the ocean or war, and others chose abstract themes such as colors or shapes. The students also started to collect things from their homes and bring them in to use on their assemblages. …

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