The Pacific Northwest Art Program (PNAP) is off and running! The collaborative project, developed by Recology, Cracked Pots, Inc., and Metro, the regional government for the Portland metropolitan area, seeks to educate and inspire the Portland public about recycling, reuse and resource conservation. The program will also support the local art community and divert materials from landfills.
Recology Group General Manager, Dave Dutra said “[we] are proud to introduce this program to Portland as it showcases how discarded material can be transformed into unique pieces of art and creatively diverted from the landfill… With the support of Cracked Pots and Metro, we are able to help the public to see waste differently so that we stop wasting what we have and start making the most of what we use.”
Recology Oregon operates the Metro Central Transfer Station, and has already increased the recycling rate to 37 percent from 17 percent in its first year as the facility operator.
Cracked Pots is an environmental arts non-profit organization whose mission is waste reduction. Since 1998, Cracked Pots has worked in the Portland area to harness the creativity of artists as teachers to inspire the public to waste less and create more.
Metro, the regional government, regulates solid waste and recycling in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties.
The PNAP initiative takes its inspiration from the world-renowned Recology San Francisco Artist in Residence Program. Founded twenty years ago, the San Francisco program has supported over 100 professional and student artists in the San Francisco Bay Area, and has been the subject of national and international press. Each year more than 5,000 children and adults visit art exhibitions and attend educational tours that allow artist to interact with the public while teaching important lessons about recycling and reuse. The program has been successful and replicated throughout the country, and continues to connect environmentally-concerned artists throughout the country.
The First Five
Ben Dye, Jen Fuller, William Rihel, Mike Suri, and Leslie Vigeant will pioneer the Portland program this year. The five jury-selected artists will work through September 2011, creating art pieces from the material disposed of at the Metro Central Transfer Station.
Ben Dye’s twenty-five year career as a marine diver has influenced his sculptural pieces with imagery often derived from the sea. Working primarily in metal, Dye’s large and small scale sculptures include representations of fish and seahorses created from reclaimed metals. Dye’s sculptures have been chosen for public installations in Gallery Without Walls in Lake Oswego and the City Hall Sculpture Garden in Milwaukie. He will serve as curator for the 2011 Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts and is currently a board member of the Pacific Northwest Sculpture Guild.
As a glass artist, Jen Fuller uses the kiln to slump, fuse, and cast found and recycled glass. Fuller began creating work using this kiln-formed method in 2009, and has since apprenticed at Warren Carther Studios in Winnipeg, Canada, where she assisted with the creation of a 15,000 pound glass sculpture commissioned for the Winnipeg International Airport. She recently began to create her own large-scale installations, and also continues to screen print, and sandblast on reclaimed mirror and window glass. In 2010 Fuller received an emerging artist grant from the William T. Colville Foundation.
William Rihel uses discarded materials such as cardboard, wood, and paper to create installations and mixed media work. His 2009 Life + Boat exhibition was made from cardboard culled from store dumpsters, and his 2007 exhibition at Powell’s Books consisted of seventy-two pieces created with discarded building materials from a house that was being built in his neighborhood. Rihel states, “My work is a combination of ideas about space and ways of adapting to it…It’s always been part of my practice to use what is around me to make art…” Rihel received a BFA from the Pratt Institute in New York and has exhibited at the Basil Hallward Gallery in Powell’s Books and at Virtuoso Studios in Portland.
“My objects are the result of my unwavering fascination with forming and fusing metal coupled with my deep appreciation for nature, our relationship with it and the daily practice of distilling ideas though craft,” says Mike Suri. Suri’s large-scale sculptures blend a variety of reclaimed metals into elegant forms that reference the natural world. Suri has created commissioned works including Community Trees for The ReBuilding Center in Portland, the Opportunity Bench at Humboldt Gardens for the Housing Authority of Portland, and Mirabella Six, six steel sculptures for the rooftop deck of the Mirabella building in Portland. Suri has exhibited widely in the Pacific Northwest.
Leslie Vigeant works with post-consumer products like plastic bags and bubble wrap to make sculptural works that often have a textile-like quality and whose source materials may not be easily identifiable on first glance. “We live in a world that is swollen with materials,” says Vigeant. “Yet most makers resort to store bought purchases to fabricate their work…When I make a beautiful or intriguing piece out of post consumer products, it is more alive with a cultural resonance than anything I could buy at a store,” explains Vigeant. Vigeant received her BFA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and will receive her MFA this year from the Oregon College of Arts and Crafts and Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland.