Upcycling for a cause:  Students and faculty make old become new again

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Upcycling for a cause:  Students and faculty make old become new again

By Sarah Richards

         Whether hanging from the walls or displayed on square white columns like a designer handbag boutique, art ranged from functional—such as lamps and tables—to decorative—such as wall art and sculpture—showing that one person’s junk was another person’s art.
         The second annual Artistically Repurposed Art Show was held Friday, May 11, in the Anna Lamar Switzer Art Gallery.
         Marbled resin-topped furniture was popular and so were beach themes, the latter which included a door panel with the Blue Angels and the Pensacola Beach Ball water tower.  There were more avant-garde pieces, such as a Victorian lady with cone breasts that lit up, a suit of armor with a metal trash can lid serving as a shield, and an Alice in Wonderland teacup chandelier juxtaposed with a mod vase of tulip lights.
         A coffee-colored quilt created from fabric at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore won first place, which some might consider more craftsy than artsy, proving that textiles are as much art as more durable goods.
         The rule for the show was that seventy-five percent of the materials had to be “found,” or materials from the ReStore.  Students got Hobby Lobby gift cards for the other twenty-five percent to finish their projects.

Poppy Garcia makes a political statement with his piece, “Title 10-34.” The number is the police code for “open door or window/riot.” His work strives to give a voice to those underrepresented in society.

         Fine Arts major, Poppy Garcia, whose wall art consisted of six Mexican mineral bottles (the rope light the only element not reclaimed), said, “It’s an abstract sculpture that speaks about the difference between rioting and protest.”  He calls his piece “Title 10-34″—the police code for a riot.  “This piece represents the silent cries of the protestor and the lack of representation of their existence.”

Mae Flener went the industrial arts route with her creation, “My Pixar Lamp.” The lustrous lamp is a functional reimaging of a copper pot used for melting chocolate. (Photos by Sarah Richards)

         My Pixar Lamp, put together by Mae Flener, a Graphic Design major, shines like a freshly-minted penny.  “It’s made out of some really quirky pieces,” which included a “pot used to boil down chocolate,” and a vintage light bulb reminiscent of something you would see in “The Shape of Water,” as “any other light bulb would be too bright and you wouldn’t be able to look at it.”
         Flener smiled.  “There was a lot of problem-solving with this one,” which art teacher, Jimmy Rhea, could attest to, as he joked later to the group, “I’m charging you for the welding this time…you can charge me for fixing the welding.”
         Alyssa Perez, fine arts major, created a lamp made of something you would find in a junkyard, like car parts, an air filter serving as a lampshade.  “My fiancé works on cars…I wanted to make something a man would want to spend a lot of money on.”  She also created “Fish Tank TV”—a diorama of an aquarium—repurposing the kind of analog television people’s grandparents or great-grandparents might have, with perhaps a newer television on top.

Alyssa Perez took one person’s junk and turned it into another person’s treasure. Foraging a thrift store for junkyard finds, she crafted a lamp from auto parts, saving them from ending up in the landfill.

         Every piece was up for bid, and whatever didn’t sell, went right back to ReStore, so nothing was wasted.  Even if a piece didn’t get a bid, they got a third life elsewhere.