“The Girls” by Marita Dingus

The Girls Marita Dingus at Traver Gallery 2015

Marita Dingus‘ latest art exhibit, The Girls, is at Traver Gallery until March 28.  Marita continues her fearless exploration of recycled materials in this fierce display of female figures of the African Diaspora that range in size from 6 1/2 inches to 6 1/2 feet tall.

Marita Dingus at Traver Gallery 2015 NIGERIAN GIRLS, edition of 100 (detail)

Marita Dingus at Traver Gallery 2015
NIGERIAN GIRLS, edition of 100 (detail)

It is always intriguing to discover what discards she has incorporated into her pieces, especially when she points out “look what I did with those green plastic things you gave me,” because I, along with most of her friends and fans, contribute to her collection of interesting junk supplies.  In this case, the Olympia Library had given me a big box of empty spools from receipt paper; after ten years, I finally decided that I wasn’t going to use them in my work and passed them on to Marita, who always seems to find something to do with the stuff everyone else wants to throw away.

Marita Dingus with "Big Sister" at Traver Gallery 2015

Marita Dingus with “Big Sister” at Traver Gallery 2015

More pics of The Girls — Marita Dingus art exhibit at Traver Gallery HERE and HERE and HERE

 

Trash Fashion Dew or Don’t

Mountain Dew suit by Jason Hemperly

Mountain Dew suit by Jason Hemperly

Examples of Trash Fashion for men can be elusive, so imagine our excitement when we discovered Jason Hemperly of Dennison, Ohio, who went to his prom wearing a suit made from Mountain Dew packaging!  Fashion tip: a pop of color from a contrasting tie, maybe made from a Doritos bag, would have really complemented this outfit.  And maybe Stephen Colbert could have used Jason’s Mountain Dew tie …

colbert-rocks-a-doritos-suit

Jason wears his love for Mountain Dew on his sleeve (and everywhere else):

Au Revoir, Matter Gallery

Matter Gallery is closing at the end of the month.  Matter has been part of the recycle art scene since September 2009, featuring art work made from repurposed, upcycled, and/or sustainable materials created by artists up and down the west coast, many of them our friends from the Pacific Northwest.

Jo Gallaugher, founder of Matter Gallery, July 2012

Jo Gallaugher, founder of Matter Gallery, July 2012

It was a colorful, eclectic place, crammed full of interesting and unusual things, like Pat Tassoni‘s lamps “…culled from the consumer detritus of the American wasteland and reverse-engineered with alien technology;” the paintings and furniture made with wooden boats, sail remnants, and other odd stuff by George KurzmanMicki Shampang-Voorhies‘ “kinky shoes” made from scrap metal and old tools; rustic reclaimed metal sculpture by Pattie YoungLoran Scruggs‘ bottle cap whistles and tin assemblages; Jennifer Kuhns’ mosaicsStu Gullstrand‘s masks made from junk he finds along the railroad tracks and in dumpsters (really, I have taken walks with him and his dog in their SoDo neighborhood); plastic bag babies and soda pop top jewelry by Ruby Re-Usable; and Steven Suski’s paintings and assemblages.

“For me it was great having my art at Matter to validate artists who make art out of junk or recycled material. Matter’s art pushed my boundaries of what art can be made of and what can be art. Matter’s closing is a real loss of diversity for Olympia’s art community.” — artist Steven Suski, on the closing of Matter Gallery

Read more about Matter Gallery closing in the Weekly Volcano

Matter Gallery 2014: front row: owners Roxanna Groves, Cha Davis, Jude Manley back row: Pat Tassoni and former employee Louise Morgan

Matter Gallery owners 2014                                                                                                                                          front row: Roxanna Groves, Cha Davis, Jude Manley                                                                                back row: Pat Tassoni and former employee Louise Morgan

Have a Trashionable New Year

So as this is an end-of-the-year post, we thought we would reflect on this past year while looking forward to the next.  For me, Ruby Re-Usable, the thing that stands out the most is Trash Fashion.  I am eagerly anticipating the Schack Art Center‘s Saving the Environment: Sustainable Art exhibit, which will be up April 23 – May 30; their Trash Fashion Show date is still TBA.  Back in November, I had the honor of being the main presenter for the Schack Art Center’s teachers’ workshop, where I spoke about artists in Washington State who specialize in recycled materials.  I also taught hands-on workshops on recycled art dolls and Trash Fashion; the latter was particularly successful in generating inspiration for everyone, including moi (one of the reasons I enjoy teaching is that I get some great ideas on how to reuse materials from my students, both young and old alike).

Trash Fashion workshop models at the Schack Art Center November 2014

Classroom teachers became Trash Fashion workshop models at the Schack Art Center 11/7/14.  The teachers worked in teams of 5  to come up with trash names, create one trashtastic ensemble, and generate a story that went with the piece, all in 1 1/2 hours.

Here are some Trash Fashion links to check out for future reference: Trashion Fashion Show promotes environmental awareness through art in Harford, Ct, Washington, DC, and New York City.  Trash-Fashions promotes recycling and reusing through art, design, performance, installation and education.  Port Townsend Wearable Art is a yearly wearable art fundraiser and competition happening since 2011 in Port Townsend, WA.  Inspired by the success of the Upcycle Style show, Tinkertopia presented an Upcycled Trash Fashion Show in the Old Post Office in Tacoma, WA.  Haute Trash creates fashion out of trash for entertainment, education, and empowerment.  Nancy Judd of Recycle Runway uses trash fashion to stimulate conversation, action, and education about sustainable living.

Princess Trashie of Saves-A-Lot shows off soda tab jewelry by Ruby Re-Usable

Princess Trashie of Saves-A-Lot shows off soda tab jewelry by Ruby Re-Usable at Upcycle Style

The only Trash Fashion show I participated in this past year was Upcycle Style, the show I co-organized with Ms Darcy Anderson back in September; it was a fabulous show and quite the learning experience for us both.  Not only did I get to work with some talented designers and models while creating some new trashtastic ensembles, but I had some epiphanies as well (are you allowed to have more than one epiphany at a time?).  I realized that there is a lot more that goes into producing a Trash Fashion show than I previously thought (notes to self: need a stage manager along with the usual crew, dedicate more time to working with models on their routines, and renewed respect to Rayona Visqueen of Haute Trash),  AND I rediscovered a passion for making jewelry from recycled materials.

The jewelry happened because I needed to accessorize Princess Trashie’s plastic six-pack rings dress.  In my design process, I prefer to use a minimal variety of stuff, keeping the materials related to the overall theme of the outfit.  In this case, I needed a pop of color to offset all the icy silver mylar and pale white six-pack rings.  Since I already had a little silver soda tab bag for Trashie to carry (a gift from a friend, we don’t know who made it), and since soda tabs were part of the cans that were previously in the six-pack rings, soda tabs were the perfect material to continue the motif.  It helped that I had a collection of tabs from my sons: electric blue ones from the Blue Sky soda they drink, and silver ones from various sources, including their 5th grade teacher, who gave me his lifetime collection when he retired (why he was collecting them and where he got so many is a different story for a different time).  A trip to the crafts store for jump rings and voila!  A necklace, earrings, and a bracelet were created, and an Etsy shop was reborn.

"junk jewelry" by Ruby Re-Usable, made with cat food can pull tabs and pop tops

“junk jewelry” by Ruby Re-Usable, made with cat food can pull tabs and soda pop tops

I liked the jewelry that I made for Trashie so much, I made a set for myself, only I varied the design slightly.  Soon I went searching for more tabs of different colors, discovering along the way that not only do they vary in color, but soda tabs also come in different shapes and sizes.  I had purchased my first piece of soda tab jewelry from Maddie the Mad Rad Recycler, who was a middle schooler at the time. She is now in high school and no longer in the soda tab jewelry biz, so she gave me her collection of mostly energy drink tabs (along with some beer tabs from an uncle who worked in a bar).  Did I mention that I have two cats who eat two cans of cat food a day?  The pull tabs from those cans soon became incorporated into necklaces as well.  My friends have rallied to save me their drink tabs, but I am always on the look out for more.  You can see (and buy) my soda tab jewelry on RubyReUsable.etsy.com

Art from Rubbish by Michelle Reader

Fox recycled art sculpture by Michele Reader

Fox recycled art sculpture by Michelle Reader

Since 1997, Michelle Reader has been working to make recycled materials into sculptures, often incorporating mechanical elements such as the working parts of toys and clocks. Her materials come from city dumps, roadsides, and thrift shops, and include both household and industrial waste. “I love the unpredictability of found materials and enjoy the inventiveness necessary to transform them into a sculpture,” she says. “I try wherever possible to use materials that are reclaimed, things with a history that have been discarded and might otherwise end up in landfill.”

Seven Wasted Men recycled art sculpture by Michele Reader

Seven Wasted Men recycled art sculpture by Michelle Reader

Perhaps her most famous work is this family portrait, known as “Seven Wasted Men,” that was made from one month of household waste from the family. “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—a child’s drawings, a shopping list, a birthday card,” she says. via Jill Harness/mental_floss

Happy Trashoween 2014

Recycled Tin Monsters:

Trash Fashion Zombies:

Maddie the Rad Recycling Zombie

Maddie the Rad Recycling Zombie is Ruby’s inspiration for her recent recycled art soda tab jewelry

Trash Fashion Skeletons, too:

photo by Amy Neiman via LA Times

photo by Amy Neiman via LA Times
The gown is made from styrofoam cups, paper plates and plastic utensils — reused or repurposed?  We don’t know for sure, but still think this image is trashtastic!

and the Recycled Beer Capped Crusader:

Happy Trashoween 2014 from Olympia Dumpster Divers!

(more ODD Halloween posts HERE)

 

Upcycle Style: Fashionable Fife

The Diva of the Olympia Dumpster Divers, Ruby Re-Usable, and Darcy Anderson (Team Tinkertopia in Tacoma) presented a trash fashion show on 9/13/14, as part of the Valley Ballyhoo Performing Arts Show in Fife, WA.  This was a first time collaboration between Ms Re-Usable and Ms Darcy, but as Ruby (and Jacqueline Susann) likes to say, “Once Is Not Enough,” so we look forward to more of these events in the South Puget Sound region (and beyond) in the future!

Ruby wearing a bag from Mason County recycling that reads "Once Is Not Enough"

Ruby Re-Usable is wearing a bag from Shelton/Mason County Recycling that once held recyclables

Ruby was introduced to Trash Fashion through Robin Worley/Rayona Visqueen of Haute Trash; she has since participated as a designer in trash fashion shows such as Trash Fashion Futures, Icicle Arts Trash to Fash Runway & Awards Show, Trashion at the Indiana Welcome Center, and the Seattle RE Store’s 10th Trash Fashion Show, among others.  She really wanted to work with Ms Darcy after seeing her as a “Daffodil Princess” in the window of Tinkertopia (where she is co-proprietress), so when the Fife Arts Commission asked Ruby to participate in the Valley Ballyhoo, she invited Darcy to join her, and a Trashionista was born!  Darcy got her talented Tacoma friends to work with her on Team Tinkertopia, thus inspiring even more creative folks to discover their inner trashion designer.

Ms Darcy as a Daffodil Princess in the window of Tinkertopia

Ms Darcy as a Daffodil Princess in the window of Tinkertopia, wearing brown paper packaging trimmed with yellow plastic lids and yellow duct tape

Trash Fashion is meant to be an “edutainment” event, combining information about recycling and other environmental issues with art and humor to create a show that is both entertaining and educational.  We also aim to be inclusive and body-positive, utilizing our friends and local volunteers as models.  The Upcycle Style show in Fife was no exception: our models ranged in age from elementary school to fifty-something, and we wowed the crowd with some of our classic trash fashions, along with some exciting new creations.  This show was also a learning experience for Ruby … like, how the show must go on, even if the microphone and pedestal disappear right before you go on stage (yes, this happened), along with other stuff (don’t ask).  We regret that we did not have any professional photographers to document this show, but we do have some pics on Flickr HERE and a cell phone vid posted on YouTube HERE

Upcycle Style trashionistas backstage

some of the Upcycle Style trashionistas backstage