Monday, May 10, 2010

2010 Appel Farm Surprise Art Challenge: Repurposed Art With a Purpose

This was what came in the package from Appel Farm.
And this is what I made with it!

I somehow got on the mailing list of the Appel Farm Arts and Music Center, which is a nonprofit center for the arts located in Elmer, NJ. I recently received an email from their community outreach program about participating in their 2010 Art Challenge, which entailed creating a piece of art from a bag of, well, trash. I didn't even think about it, hitting "reply" with an enthusiastic "count me in!"

A couple of weeks later, when I received my package of stuff, some of that initial fervor began to dissipate. I examined the stray puzzle pieces, bottle caps, and book remnants, not knowing what to think. I even considered just bowing out of the whole challenge. But I realized I wouldn’t be much of an artist if I did that. So, I dug deep in my imagination and decided I could use all of the pieces in a sort of school project-style jungle theme. I went out and bought green foam board and clay (if that doesn’t take you back to the fourth grade, then I don’t know what will). I used the books from the package as backdrops, gluing painted trees on one and the front of the map of New Jersey that came in the package (it featured a sunset over water) on the other. I hung the remnants of some of my own handmade necklaces against the trees, as they were made of handmade paper beads strung on green ribbon and seemed both tropical and appropriate for the recycled art theme. I decoupaged turquoise tissue paper onto the foam board to make a river, then glued on the puzzle pieces from the package, which I’d painted blue, finishing the whole thing off with a coat of glitter glue. I made a bridge from construction paper and an old gum box and topped it off with the toy car that came in the package (because what jungle doesn’t have a sports car speeding through it?). I painted the bottle caps and tee shirt fabric from the package and arranged the pieces to look like flowers, throwing in some rhinestones. As for the glass, I painted it blue and glued a few tissue paper flowers in the center to make a sort of birdbath-slash-fountain. Finally, I used large tissue paper flowers and construction paper palm fronds to create foliage behind the backdrops.

All in all, I don’t think it turned out too badly. It was fun to challenge myself to make trash pretty. I’m glad I didn’t give up! I'm taking half a day off of work tomorrow to drop it off (it's not exactly the kind of thing I could ship) so that it can be included in the gallery showing this Saturday. I'm excited to get a look at this Appel Farm place; if the Web site photos are any indication, then it'll probably be pretty cool. I'll be sure to report back to let you know!

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