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Art from the waste stream

There’s nothing like spending Friday afternoon at San Francisco’s Norcal Recycling Station with a gang of pre-schoolers. There’s their obvious excitement at seeing where the construction trash goes, and their stern looks when the tour guide discusses the evils of disposable chopsticks. It’s enough to lift anyone’s spirits to see these five-year-olds easily identify which materials should go into the recycling, compost, and garbage bins, and to cheer one another on for getting it all right. I know plenty of 40-year-olds who couldn’t have come close. Maybe there should be a game show.

However, I was most struck by the way the good folks at NorCal have put together an innovative Artist in Residence program to make the whole experience a bit more accessible. You round a corner after inspecting a trash separation operation, walk up a small path, and suddenly you’re in an outdoor sculpture garden. There’s also a small indoor gallery featuring current exhibitions. All of the artwork is 100% sustainable, fashioned from interesting found objects pulled from the waste stream.


Atom #3, David King, 2008, extension cord, pipe end fittings, construction fencing, thread, ball

Take a couple of minutes to browse David King’s work from the series, as well as the work from Christine Lee, the other artist currently in residence. I think you’ll find both an invigorating reminder that there’s more than one way to think about what we throw away.


Love Comet, David King, 2008, stuffed animals, diamond ring

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