Make Art, Not Landfill: Recology’s Artist in Residence Program Turns 25

Carnival Masks by Dana Albany are featured in the Recology exhibit

Carnival Masks by Dana Albany – made of wood, recycled paint and objects found at the landfill – were featured in a Recology exhibit at San Francisco Airport in 2013

25 years is an amazing anniversary to reach, but even more so for anything related to art made from landfill waste. If that statement doesn’t make sense to you, you don’t know about Recology and/or its Artist in Residence program, which turns 25 this year.

Since the Program’s founding in 1990, more than 150 Bay Area artists have worked at Recology San Francisco, making art from things that people have thrown away. The first of its kind in the country, the program was developed when curbside recycling was established in San Francisco. Conceived by artist and activist Jo Hanson, the program was the most innovative component of an education initiative that encouraged people to recycle. Now, twenty-five years later, the program has garnered international attention and has grown to include an Environmental Learning Center, an extensive public tour program, a three-acre sculpture garden, and off-site exhibitions.

The goal of the Artist in Residence Program is to support Bay Area artists while teaching the importance of the new style “3 R’s” – reducing, reusing, and recycling. Artists work in a studio on-site at San Francisco’s Transfer Station and scavenge in the Public Disposal and Recycling Area for materials to create their art. The results of hyper-consumerism, easy disposability, planned obsolescence, and our general love of “stuff” are disturbingly plentiful.

An employee-owned company that traces its roots back to Gold-Rush-era San Francisco, Recology provides collection, recycling, disposal, and top quality compost and has over 40 subsidiaries, including Golden Gate Disposal and Sunset Scavenger. Recology proudly serves more than 127 communities including 700,000 residential and 100,000 commercial customers in California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington state.

As part of the 25th year celebration, Recology and the Thoreau Center for Sustainability are hosting an exhibition and reception at the Thoreau Center’s galleries. The opening reception will be held on Thursday, June 11th, from 5 – 8pm.

The exhibition runs from June 8th to September 10th. It will feature more than 50 artworks made from recycled materials by 43 artists during their residencies “at the dump.” A video slide show documenting all the Program’s former artists will be presented in the exhibition.

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