Students Turn Trash Into Art

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The prominent front window at the Frog Hollow State Craft Center in Burlington has been filled with trash for a few weeks now. To be more precise, it’s trash that teenagers have turned into works of art. Each spring, the "Creative Re-Use Showcase" invites high school students to submit art work made from trash. The project is coordinated by the Chittenden County Solid Waste District as a way of exploring the ideas of consumer waste, disposable goods and recycling.

VPR’s Patti Daniels visited the exhibit this week:

(Daniels) From the street, what catches your eye is the jumble of colors, shapes and textures. Gallery director Rob Hunter likes to watch the reactions of people looking in through the front windows:

(Rob Hunter) “It’s funny, while we were standing here, I’ve already seen three people takes double-takes, I’ve seen one person stop and take a photo through the glass. (Laughs) And, you know it definitely draws people in.”

(Daniels) I was drawn to the white bubble skirt – that’s in the fashion section of the exhibit. It has debris and bits of trash trapped in whirlwind layers of gauzy netting.

There are also musical instruments — made from cigar boxes and bullet casings — and few pieces inspired by technology. Hunter’s favorite is a birdhouse made of deconstructed computer keyboards:

(Hunter) “Every year we have to throw out all of last year’s technology because we have to replace it. And essentially, this is a fabrication of what a bird’s house may look like in the future when birds have no environment but the trash heaps of technology to live in.”

(Daniels) Ok, maybe the fuchsia and teal colors soften the message, but the techno-trash birdhouse gets to the point of the exhibit. Michele Morris is one of the coordinators with the Chittenden Solid Waste District:

(Morris) “If you decide to reuse it, it’s not waste. If you decide to recycle it, it’s still not waste. If you decide to create a wonderful, inspiring piece of art or a very usable lamp, which we have several examples of here – that’s not waste! That’s giving something a new, creative, second life that it never would have had if you’d thrown it in a landfill.”

(Daniels) The landfill message is clear to Sharon Plumb – this isn’t the first year she’s come to exhibit. But in this year’s show, there’s a piece that’s really grabbed her — it’s a sculpture of an owl made from car parts.

(Plumb) “Ooh, I got all teary looking at it. It’s a ‘Wise Old Owl’ and it’s made by a young man at CVU. He’s a mechanic. And he took pieces from various automobiles that he’s either worked on or driven. He says the only piece that doesn’t come from a car is this wrench that the teacher who’d gotten him into working on cars had given him. And he talks in his little write-up here about the adults that have guided him in his life.”

(Daniels) For visitors, that’s part of the fun: learning how artists turn trash and recycling into art that tells a personal story.

For VPR News, I’m Patti Daniels in Burlington.

The Creative Re-Use Showcase at the Frog Hollow State Craft Center runs through Tuesday in Burlington.


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