These are a few pieces among many from five artists on display at the 2017 GLEAN Art Exhibit, which opened Friday, Aug. 4 at the Bison Building in Northeast Portland.
Every year the GLEAN program gives selected artists the chance to glean through materials at Metro Central transfer station and create art with them. The program is a collaboration between garbage and recycling business Recology, environmental arts organization crackedpots, and Metro.
This year five artists were selected to participate in the program: Christian Barrios, Caroline Borucki, Tyler Corbett, Latifa Medjdoub and Danielle Schlunegger. Each was required to make at least eight different pieces of art.
“I’ve gotten a really great response from people,” Danielle Schlunegger said. “People seem really amazed at some of the stuff, ‘this was at the dump?’ or ‘you made this out of wood that you found there?’”
Schlunegger’s pieces focused on providing a historical context, with one titled “Important Women throughout History.” The piece consists of old hardware encased in a glass frame with metal materials lined up against one another.
“We make assumptions about what the past was based off of what little we know,” Schlunegger said.
Metro Councilor Carlotta Collette took a liking to Schlunegger’s work, which she says was like “digging up old tombs.” Collette served on the jury that selected this year’s artists.
Throughout the evening attendees expressed their surprise at many of the different pieces, which ranged in size, color, shape and topic. Some of the artists’ collections tells their own stories, such as Latifa Medjdoub’s exploration of energy or Caroline Borucki’s interpretation of mycology through textiles. Each artist had a different vision, making each piece unique.
This year, the program increased community outreach to help ensure a more diverse pool of applicants, and to broaden the perspectives represented in the show itself.
“The way various cultures view garbage and art is an important part of what we’re trying to learn from this whole exercise,” Collette said. “I view the GLEAN program as a learning process. It’s a teaching opportunity to be able to learn what people throw away and what that says about us.”
Although the fact that the art is made from trash is always a major component of the GLEAN experience, there are other surprising elements that draw attention at the exhibition.
“The color is very surprising. I guess I wasn’t expecting it to be so vivid,” attendee Jessie Aaron said. “When I think of trash, I think of browns and bad smells and gray and dirt and sort of decay, but there’s a lot of really, really vivid color which I love – very beautiful.”
Another attendee, Hector Hernandez, is a Portland artist who attended the show to support friend and colleague, Christian Barrios.
“I like the way that they came up with some solutions for the use of the materials,” Hernandez said.
The GLEAN exhibit runs through Aug. 26 and is free and open to the public. Visitors are encouraged to vote for their favorite work by each artist. The results of the People’s Choice Awards will be posted next month on Metro News and at gleanpdx.org.
“Whether it’s transforming oil and canvas to a beautiful painting, or transforming old carpeting into a beautiful sculpture, art is about transforming the obvious, the mundane, the day-to-day into something exciting and new that changes your way of seeing,” Collette said. “It’s very transformative, very deliberate, and because of that very inspiring.”