More Marita in March

Olympia Dumpster Divers blog was originally started in July 2006 as a way to document Ruby Re-Usable’s HERE TODAY temporary art installation, although lately it seems like all Marita Dingus all the time, but I am sure you don’t mind, because Marita is so inspiring in the fearless way she recombines a myriad of recycled materials to create figures that resonate with cultural, historical, political and environmental issues.  So this month, we  will be posting about Marita once again.

The Gathering by Marita Dingus at Traver Gallery

Marita Dingus’ show “The Gathering” is at Traver Gallery, March 2- April 1, 2017 (more pics HERE and HERE).

“In her mixed media figurative sculptures, Dingus, to communicate her narratives, uses almost exclusively, recovered and found material as the medium for her sculptures, creating harmonious results from shattered pieces and discarded materials.

In her exhibition, Marita Dingus commemorates how humans continue to call upon the spirit world for help and guidance in conducting their affairs, especially in times of elevated threat and uncertainty. This show is inspired by Marita’s love of the nkondi sculptures of the Kongo people, which were used as spiritual enforcers of conflict resolutions. The Gathering represents the duality of people seeking spiritual support outside themselves when in fact the spiritual strength comes from within. Gathering is also a process of passing along to the next generation the skill to draw upon our inner strengths.” via Traver Gallery

This past Saturday Marita invited me to hang out with her and Lynn Di Nino at their wearable art sale at Dan Fear’s art studio in Tacoma, so I brought along my Singer 201k hand crank sewing machine for Marita to try out — she has several electric Singer 201 sewing machines and was skeptical about hand cranks, but was so impressed by the smoothness of the crank, the well-designed case, the portability and the practicality of it (when the power goes out, as it tends to do here in our part of the Pacific Northwest, a hand crank &/or a treadle is a useful sewing machine to have) — she totally fell in love with it and wants one now!

ps Marita introduced me to the glue gun back in 1986; more recently she is one of the people who has sparked my passion for vintage sewing machines.

Marita test sews with Ruby's 201k hand crank sewing machine

Truth B Told art exhibit includes Marita Dingus

Ruby Re-Usable and Jane Junkton attended the opening of this show back in January, but there is still time to view the more than 160 paintings, sculpture, photography, mixed-media, video, and 3-dimensional installations by more than 50 Pacific Northwest artists of African descent in the ONYX Fine Arts Truth B Told art exhibit at the King Street Station gallery in Seattle — show runs until until February 18, 2017.

Marita Dingus with her piece, Gathering the Spirits, at Truth B Told ONYX Fine Arts Opening

There isn’t a whole lot of art from recycled materials in the exhibit, but we did get to see our friend and Recycle Art Goddess Marita Dingus‘ latest piece, Gathering the Spirits, an impressive trio of figures made mostly out of repurposed metal scraps that are embellished with various plastic pieces (including black plastic mesh scraps left over from our ill-fated McClure Middle School recycled art installation — more info about that HERE).  Marita first created a solitary figure similar to this trio for the Bellevue Art Museum’s 4th Biennial, Metalmorphosis, which focused on the medium of metal; we look forward to see more of these figures.  More info about Marita Dingus and Truth B Told exhibit HERE and HERE and HERE

Gathering the Spirits by Marita Dingus at ONYX Fine Arts exhibit Truth B Told 


Marita Dingus: “Hanging from the Rafters” at BIMA

It is always amazing and inspiring to see what Marita Dingus is up to in her studio; last summer, I got a sneak preview of the 27 foot figure she was creating for the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art:

Marita Dingus work-in-progress 27 foot figure for BIMA
Marita Dingus work-in-progress 27 foot figure for BIMA

Finally got to see the finished piece installed in the entry window of Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, where it will remain on display through this summer.

detail of Marita Dingus installation at BIMA
detail of Marita Dingus installation at BIMA

Fun to get close to her work and wonder “what IS that?” and marvel at how she utilizes such disparate objects and shapes to create such an awesome whole.

Marita Dingus installation at BIMA photo by Robert Wade
Marita Dingus installation at BIMA , photo by Robert Wade







Trashoween 2015

This is my latest self-portrait, made from discarded coat hanger wire, thrift store stuff, a popsicle stick, fabric scrap, paper bag, cardboard, and plaster gauze:

Ruby Re-Usable playing the ukulele

I started doing these Day of the Dead inspired skeletons in 2009, when my younger son was a student at the local public alternative high school and I volunteered to do a 4-day art workshop for the mini-unit session.  The students watched and discussed a video about Dia de los Muertos, and then had a choice as to who their skeleton would represent: a deceased ancestor, an archetype, a celebrity or historical figure, or, this being an art class, a self-portrait.  What I was surprised to discover was how the act of creating these figurines became a cathartic experience for some of the participants.

Avanti High School '09 Day of the Dead project
Avanti High School ’09 Day of the Dead project

For the past 5 years, I have been presenting a shorter version of this workshop at the local community college, the libraries, and some middle schools.  Instead of using coat hanger wire, cardboard tubes, and paint, we use chenille stems, card stock, and markers; fabric scraps and other junk are used for both versions. More pics on flickr HERE

Day of the Dead figurines by Ruby Re-Usable
Day of the Dead figurines by Ruby Re-Usable

A friend sent a pic of a plastic jug skeleton that is currently hanging up on his street.  While I admire skeletons made from plastic jugs, I have never actually made one.  My friend Marita has made them (they were shown at the now defunct Francine Seders Gallery), and one year she gave me one; it hangs in my house all year round.

plastic jug skeleton in tree
plastic jug skeleton 17th Av SE
plastic jug skeleton by Marita Dingus
plastic jug skeleton by Marita Dingus











While searching for instructions on how to make a plastic jug skeleton, I came across this skeleton made from plastic cutlery and other white plastic things by Elliott Mariess

Waste Skeleton by Elliott Mariess
Waste Skeleton by Elliott Mariess

Skeleton imagery reminds us of our own mortality.  And while our bodies will eventually decompose, plastics are like the undead — although it does degrade, plastic does not die or decompose.  So I consider the “Waste Skeleton” a scary reminder of how plastics are unhealthy for humans.  BOO!

See past ODD Trashoween posts HERE






Rubbish & Recycling artists: Marita Dingus and Joshua Sofaer

SO!  Olympia Dumpster Divers turned 9 years old this week; the official start date of this blog was July 13, which just happens to be our friend Marita’s birthday.  Marita Dingus remains the Queen of Art from Recycled Materials here in the Pacific Northwest, where she continues to exhilarate us with her unique ways of making art with the stuff other folks throw away.



Ruby's discarded venetian blind slats are incorporated into Marita's latest project
Ruby’s surplus venetian blind slats are incorporated into Marita’s latest project

Marita is also a docent for the Seattle Art Museum, currently leading tours of the Disguise: Masks and Global African Art exhibit.  This past Wednesday, Ruby, along with artist Kelly Lyles, had the privilege of being part of the public tour lead by Marita, which was an insightful and informative experience, since Marita is truly passionate about art and Africa. Unbeknownst to us all, there was another interesting artist in this tour — Kelly found out later when she attended his lecture at SAM that evening and recognized Joshua Sofaer as the Englishman who was asking questions during the tour that afternoon. Ruby totally regrets not being able to attend his talk, but is excited to learn more about his work.


work-in-progress: chicken coop with spheres by Marita Dingus
work-in-progress: chicken coop with spheres by Marita Dingus

Joshua Sofaer is a UK based artist involved in socially engaged art that includes elements of performance, collaboration, and public participation, often with an irreverent sense of humor.  He was in town to speak about his recent project, “The Rubbish Collection,” a one month long exhibit/exploration of the quantity, quality, and aesthetics of what was discarded by the Science Museum of London, questioning what we throw away verses what we keep.

The Rubbish Collection, Phase 1: Documentation by Joshua Sofaer
The Rubbish Collection, Phase 1: Documentation by Joshua Sofaer


“I want to use art to enable people to see the world as a place of potentiality and to become more active citizens.”         Joshua Sofaer

We look forward to reading more about Joshua Sofaer (and hope that our paths will cross again someday), seeing Marita Dingus’ next installation, (which will be at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art — stay tuned),  and, of course, posting more often about Ruby Re-Usable’s art from recycled materials and the myriad of art and artists that inspire Olympia Dumpster Divers to MAKE ART NOT WASTE!

“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


Mavericks with Magnificent Marita

Marita Dingus and Ruby Re-Usable

Marita Dingus and Ruby Re-Usable worked with all of the 7th graders  at McClure Middle School in Seattle for 3 days (5/15 – 5/17/2013) to create “mavericks” (the school mascot) out of discarded plastic stuff which they attached with telephone wire to a black plastic mesh that was purchased at the RE Store.  There were 5 classes (about 130 students total), so 5 horses were created for display in the main entry way.   The installation should happen in June, so stayed tuned.  Some pics from the project HERE

maverick made from mostly black plastic, with rainbow mane and tail

We were interviewed for the school newspaper, and one of the students asked us how did we meet; so we told him how back in 1986 we were both in a juried craft show at the (old) Tacoma Art Museum, and were really impressed by the other’s work. It was Marita who turned Ruby on to the joys of using a glue gun!  And it was during a brainstorming session in Ruby’s living room, with Marita wondering what to do with a bunch of fabric and telephone wire, that the “snake” project was born, which became the basis for the “animals” and “little people” projects.  Watch a vid of Marita demonstrating How to Make Little People with Marita Dingus on Vimeo

Woman As the Creator by Marita Dingus at Town Hall

On May 17, 2013, Marita Dingus donated her amazing 18′ tall piece, Woman As the Creator (which made its debut at the Sonja Henning Museum in Oslo before being shown at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma), to Town Hall in honor of Louise McKenny