Are Artists the Ultimate Recyclers?

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For a group of artists, scrap metal, bits of rubber, discarded paint cans and empty water bottles are all just waiting to be transformed not only into works of art, but also statements about serious environmental issues.

The ‘Green Revolution’ exhibition at Tempe Center for the Arts (TCA) in Tempe, Ariz. is a green-themed display aimed at engaging visitors about ecological issues. The exhibit was originally from the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry and its Black Creativity Council and is made available by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.

“‘Green Revolution’ allowed us to make an Arizona-based version of the exhibition, and so we were able to ask local artists to present themes about recycling, energy and carbon footprint,” says Michelle Nichols Dock, Gallery Coordinator for TCA and Tempe Cultural Services.

Transforming scrap metal into flowering flora

"Ill Fated," Courtesy of Samuel Troxell
"Ill Fated," Courtesy of Samuel Troxell
"Ill Fated," Courtesy of Samuel Troxell
"Burning Dawn." Photo: Samuel Troxell
"In Seeds We Trust." Photo: Tempe Center for the Arts
"Rio Salado Rest Stop." Photo: Laurie Lundquist
"Paint Can Wall." Photo: Michael Ging
"Wall Flowers." Photo: Courtesy Samuel Troxell
"Blossoms and Blooms." Photo: Michael Ging

Arizona blacksmith Samuel Troxell says he uses about 70 percent recycled materials in his artwork.

“The work seen in the Green Revolution exhibition was my thesis show for Graduate school,” Troxell says. “’Blossoms and Blooms’ was a show about life and how it would look in an environment of rubber and iron. Each floral found in the show had a story and reason for surviving. I only realized after, when I was asked about materials, that I had so much recycled materials and had such a strong green message. This exhibition has helped me think of new directions to go with my work in both materials and ideas.”

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