Art students pair with Habitat for Humanity for art show fundraiser
By Sarah Richards
Upcycling is the new recycling, as the Pensacola State College art students showed at the “Artistically Repurposed” event, where they gathered “found objects” that would have otherwise contributed to the landfills, as well as items from the Habitat ReStore Thrift Store, to create treasure out of trash.
Recycle, repurpose, and restore was the motto, the purpose: to highlight the fact that purchasing items through the Habitat Restore is not only greener, but can also assist with housing issue.
The event was held at the Anna Lamar Switzer Center for Visual Art at Pensacola State College’s main campus, from 5-8 p.m., starting with a little wine and dine and ending with a silent auction. Students, as well as patrons of the arts, Habitat helpers, and the artists themselves, were there to mingle at the not-so-black-tie event.
Pen Air Federal Credit Union was the show’s sponsor, funding the cash prizes and art supplies.
Each participating student was granted a $100 allowance for materials from the ReStore and an additional $25 for regular materials. The show was limited to 50 students and the prizes were for Best of Show, $400; first place, $300; second place, $200; and third place, $100.
Upcycled art in a multitude of mediums—from furniture to sculpture—caught the eye and engaged the mind. Art major, Mary Lynn Grande’s, “TV Dinner,” was reminiscent of our grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ television sets, when TVs were part of the furniture, the décor. An RCA television with its guts taken out served as a conversation piece that could be used for dining in with a couple of TV dinners and a bottle of wine; two stools completed the visual of a vintage bistro feel. Crystal candlesticks made from lamps added ambiance, place settings providing the finishing touch. The piece was self-contained and put on rollers, so the buyer could have lunch by the window one day, and dinner in front of the television another.
Following the minimalistic approach, most of the artists gave their abstract pieces concrete titles, such as Jodie Nash’s Best of Show, “Coffee Table,” made from a solid oak door reclaimed from the Historic District. “I saw an 8-foot door and thought immediately, it should be a table,” Nash said. Because it was curved on one end, Jodie’s wife, being a woodworker, curved the other end for “aesthetic appeal”—giving it symmetry. “This was really a trial-and-error piece,” as the resin Nash used caught on fire thrice.
Where there had once been glass, there was the illusion of an underwater oasis, complete with a 93-piece heron (like a tangram puzzle on steroids), along with a dolphin, a turtle, and fish—all using the process of intarsia, which is technique of decorating a surface with inlaid patterns, especially of wood mosaic.
Sandra Morris, graphic design major, used tree trunks a neighbor gave her, to double as stools or small tables. It was “nice to not have to sit in front of a computer for three hours.”
Richard D. Russell’s “Day 23”, was a giant metallic painted jewelry tree—almost like something out of a Dr. Seuss book—framing female faces, exuding all seriousness: one black, one white, one Asian—a representation of a human family tree, showing the interconnectedness of all people.
Many of the pieces strove to be functional as well as decorative, such as Reghan Elliott’s, “Jewelry Holder” and “No Better Time Than Family Time,” a clock made of repurposed fence panels.
Jasmin Busbee’s, “Aquarium”—a repurposed, blue shabby chic cabinet that held a fish tank (winning third place), and Chasity Brooks’ “Home Away from Home” was a collage of seashells, including a sand dollar sun.
Hayley Hyman’s “Heart Holder” was a hanging, heart-shaped wood sculpture with found objects and hand-forged hooks—a great piece to showcase tiny cactuses or objets d’art. Connor Baldwin’s “Metal Chimes” were hanging chimes made from a repurposed ceiling fan, hardware, and “found objects,” which included pieces of pipe, brackets, wrench, knobs, and handles.
Karli Kimmons’ first-place winner, “ReBloomed,” was reminiscent of a vintage paper wall garden—a hanging assemblage using repurposed record albums, the curling leaves from the covers. Putting the records in the oven caused them to curl and create a curling bowl effect. It would make one thing of flowers that came from an attic filled with imaginative children.
“…everything that we do in this life is about the process. To me the process of making art represents the ever-evolving phases of learning and living. Through some basic rules and lots of trial and error we thrive to bloom in this world and sometimes we also need to re-bloom when we get stale. The artistically repurposed show offered me an outlet to take aged and less-favored items and breathe them back to life. The thought of creating a piece of art to help raise funds for such a good cause just made the process even more fantastic. The old tail light put me in the mind set of there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Even when things are dim and appear to be most ugly, if we stop and take a look from a different perspective things begin to light up, proving that even through tough times there is always hope. It was a joy to be a part of this show and I am looking forward to the next opportunity to create for such a cause,” Kimmons said.
Second place winner, Kristy Sirmons’ “My Getaway,” was a palm tree table—the tree a ceiling fan with fronds to provide shade—perfect for a deck or patio to set drinks during a party.
It was not unusual to look at such pieces twice in a different way, and it was a night to see that beauty can be made from ashes, or, in this case, from trash.
Virginia Branchcomb, who describes herself as an “independent study,” created high-gloss canvases such as “Under the Sea” and “Love, Faith, Hope.” “You let it happen…let the resin work.” Virginia concedes art students learn as much from each other as they do from instruction. Art is “a lot of problem-solving.”
Like some writers, Virginia came up with the titles to her pieces after they materialized. She watched a couple of YouTube videos for additional instruction. “I consider myself a sculptor, but bronze is what I love to do…the tables I design as I go—I don’t like to plan it out too much.”
For some of the furniture Virginia makes, she uses MDF scraps she rescued from her job, implementing the principles of recycling and upcycling, and on working with other artists: “You share what you learn. It’s not copying…creating together.”
It is in this case, too many artists don’t spoil the art.