Santa Clara University

Community Newsletter

Turning Garbage into Art

Artists have a role to play in building sustainable communities. This fall, an exhibition at the de Saisset Museum called "Reduce, Reuse, Reimagine" will explore what art can teach us about what we throw away.

The exhibition is co-curated by Lindsey Kouvaris, curator of exhibits and collections at the de Saisset Museum, and Ryan Reynolds, assistant professor of art and art history at Santa Clara University. It includes works by artists that use exclusively recycled materials.

Using repurposed materials to create works of art is an old tradition, Kouvaris said. What makes these works different is that the artists are "not just buying something from a thrift store—they’re diverting things from the landfill. They’re using what we might consider trash to make new works of art."

Kouvaris said that while putting together the exhibition they were pleasantly surprised at the number of artists who are working with repurposed materials.


They're really beautiful—you’re not going to look at it and say, 'Oh wow, that’s trash'


They were also happy with "the sheer variety of mediums they’re able to work in using reclaimed materials." The show will include works on paper, sewn objects, and a sound installation. The art will be made from materials that range from reclaimed wood to discarded books.

"They’re really beautiful—you’re not going to look at it and say, 'Oh wow, that’s trash,'" Kouvaris said.

The exhibition is made possible by a grant from Santa Clara University's Sustainable Resource Initiative. It will run from Aug. 16 to Dec. 6 and Jan. 10 to Feb. 2, 2014.

Jeff Hantman, Tries, Try, 2013

Jeff Hantman, Tries, Try, 2013, plywood, veneer, Masonite, latex house paint, colored pencil, 41 x 46 x 15 in. Collection of Recology San Francisco.

Lauren DiCioccio, Red Memo Pad, 2011

Lauren DiCioccio, Red Memo Pad, 2011, (cover) hand-embroidery on felt, (pages) machine-sewn cotton (all materials and source object scavenged from the Public Disposal Area at Recology SF), 4 x 6 in. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Fischer Gallery.