Michael Webster’s work, “White Walled Fountain,” is shown in the exhibit “Rescue: Waste and Redemption,” at the Lyndon House Arts Center on Tuesday, April 9, 2024. Webster was one of 22 artists selected to be in the show. (Photo/Nava Rawls)

In a gallery room in the Lyndon House Arts Center, piles of trash currently hang on the walls, from the ceiling and scattered across the floor.

However, this isn’t the typical trash you might take down to the dumpster everyday.

Arranged as mosaics, sculptures and more, these compiled pieces of waste make up a project called “Rescue: Waste and Redemption,” the newest exhibit presented by guest curator Lizzie Zucker Saltz.

The theme of the exhibit is the recycling of waste materials — items that would otherwise end up in the landfill or become environmental pollutants are transformed into artworks and craft objects.

The exhibit first opened on April 6 and will be on show at the Lyndon House until June 26, 2024.

Saltz is a freelance artist based in Athens, Georgia, who founded the Athens Institute for Contemporary Art in 2001. Saltz is no stranger to working with environmental sustainability, as she’s also worked at nonprofits such as Athens Land Trust and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. This is her fourth time curating an exhibition at the Lyndon House.

Lizzie Zucker Saltz, the guest curator of “Rescue: Waste and Redemption,” poses for a portrait at Buvez Coffee Shop in Athens, Georgia, on April 23, 2024. (Photo/Nava Rawls)

A call for submissions was made for the exhibit, and 22 artists were selected to show out of 90 submissions.

Adah Bennion, a first year MFA candidate at the University of Georgia in sculpture and disciplinary art, created a piece for the exhibit titled “Returning Star Quilt” that she created in 2022. Made of plastic bags that have been sewn together in the shape of the “Star of Bethlehem,” the piece created “cognitive dissonance,” according to the exhibition catalog, and brings attention to the modern day’s single-use habits.

 Why It’s Newsworthy: “Rescue: Waste and Redemption” will be on show at the Lyndon House Arts Center until June 26, and an accompanying sustainable fashion show will be held at the arts center on May 23 at 6 p.m. 

According to the 2023 Litter Index conducted by the Athens-Clarke County government, 62% of the litter found was made up of plastics. When looking at specific items found, about 15% of litter was plastic bags or food wrappers. These items that are prevalent sources of little in the community are now reused by Bennion to make art.

“I work primarily with what I think of as ‘trash materials’ which are often non-recyclables,” Bennion said. “…I’ve been particularly attracted to plastic bags as one of my main mediums, and I use mostly fiber craft processes, but when I saw the open call and the material criteria I knew it would be a perfect fit.”

Zachary Naylor’s piece, “Molted Dream,” also utilizes plastic waste to create art. Tan plastic bag strips are shown floating from branches on the wall with flowers hand printed onto the scraps. According to the catalog, the artist wants us to confront “our own complicity in polluting natural environments by bringing us where our waste too often ends up.”

Along with plastic, artists utilized a number of other “waste” materials within their work. Micheal Webster, an assistant professor at Wofford College, created a piece for the exhibition titled “White Wall Fountain.” His work, which is made of an assortment of odd objects, aims to recontextualize the way that materials can be used. This was a favorite of Saltz’s to have in the show.

“It’s surprising,” Saltz said. “It uses materials like tires that are found in nature that are detrimental and other kinds of thrift store finds, like with the Mother’s Day cup, and just the tension of it all. I just love that piece and that it’s so unexpected.”

Kathryn Rafi, the exhibition’s program specialist at Lyndon House, recognizes that although this exhibition might not directly contribute to sustainable efforts, its existence can inspire others through art to live more sustainability.

“I think [it’s important] to have an exhibit like this … to show the ways that things can be reused, but also to celebrate the creativity of individuals, and imagine other possibilities for the items that are being made, knowing that artists making outwork out of items that might be sort of trash is not going to save the world by any means,” Rafi said.

On May 23 at 6 p.m, the Lyndon House Arts Center will also present the Rescue: Waste & Redemption Fashion Show, which coincides with Saltz’ exhibition. According to the Athens Clarke County government website, the show will feature an array of models taking to the runway dressed with clothing and jewelry composed of materials that might be otherwise designated as “trash.”

“Art raises consciousness, and when your consciousness is raised you’re receptive to really taking in new ideas,” Saltz said. “So, in an ideal world in the ideal exhibit, what happens to someone who comes to see it is they are not just amused by the images, but they are basically put into a state of awareness that helps them absorb the information.”

Nava Rawls is a senior journalism major with minors in philosophy, French and communication studies.



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