One person’s trash may be another’s treasure, but for five artists, greater Portland's trash serves as inspiration.
GLEAN, a program from Metro, trash management firm Recology and crackedpots, a Portland-based environmental art nonprofit,, is a project to make art from everyday objects that are on their way to be put in the landfill.
Thursday, Aug. 11 – Saturday, Aug. 27
Opening reception: 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 11
Bison Building (421 NE 10th Ave., Portland)
Gallery hours: noon to 5 p.m. Friday - Sunday
gleanportland.com or 503-278-0725
The five artists, chosen earlier this year by a panel of arts and environmental professionals, have spent the past six months picking through the trash at the Metro Central Transfer Station, which is managed by Recology. The material they collect from Metro Central is being used in sculptures, wall-hung art and even unique musical instruments.
“Recycling has always been one of the biggest, most important ecological issues to me, particularly in the direction of reducing consumption,” said artist Hilary Pfeifer, one of this year's participants. "It’s interesting to look at a pile of trash and think about what it could become."
“We envisioned the project as a way to just have one more tool to reach out to the public and draw their attention to the issue of wasted resources,” said Bruce Philbrick, Metro’s transfer station operations manager.
The public will have a chance to check out the art produced when it goes on exhibit in August, with an opening reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 11, at the Bison Building, 410 NE 10th Ave., Portland. The art will also be for sale.
People can keep in touch with what’s happening before that.
As the GLEAN artists work through their creative process, they are blogging about their experiences at gleanpdx.org.
“The blogs are at times very personal,” Philbrick said. “It tends to reflect their emotional response to seeing an incredible waste and to seeing the things that people throw away and just what it evokes.”
As GLEAN artist Amanda Triplett wrote in the blog on March 4, “There is something breathtaking about standing in front of a giant pile of unwanted items… My heart kind of breaks for these orphaned objects.”
At the same time, throughout the blog, readers can keep up with the neat things artists find, from wheelbarrows to taxidermied pigs. Some artists reveal their plans for these objects, while others show bits and pieces of their future works, and how they’re playing with materials.
Artist Dan Pillers said he’s learning a lot from this experience.
“I’ve salvaged materials for years,” he said. “For me this is like total heaven.”
Pillers said that since he’s used to salvaging, his first instinct was to look for his typical materials, mostly wood and brass, but seeing more has opened his mind.
“It’s sparking my imagination in different directions,” he said. “I’m really curious to see what we end up with.”