Museums typically show works made from traditional materials using
techniques formally taught in art schools or in studios. But now museums
are presenting works in more diverse media. These exhibits showcase
the work of a growing number of artists who reuse materials, creating
art from cast-offs. Here are some of these artists whose non-traditional
work is exhibited in museums.
Boris Bally: Working with Metals--Precious and "Worthless"
Boris Bally is a trained metal smith who uses materials from scrap
yards and thrift stores, as well as precious metals to create jewelry,
furniture and household utensils, "While it takes great skill to
make gold and silver into beautiful things, transforming trash into
something beautiful is the ultimate challenge because it takes more
skill and imagination to do it," Bally said.
Artistic recycling is a Bally family tradition (both parents are designers).
When Bally was young, his family scoured thrift stores and scrap yards
for metal and other art supplies. Boris' father, who used traffic
signs in his design work, stashed several in the house. Boris idly
"began banging away" on one, and immediately appreciated the metal's
quality and color patterns. Since then he has turned traffic signs
into chairs, tables, jewelry and bowls, to the delight of the public
and the Department of Transportation. Boris Bally's work is included
in many permanent collections including the Cooper-Hewitt Museum and
the American Crafts Museum in New York City, the Renwick Gallery in
Washington, D.C., and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. See
more of his work at http://www.borisbally.com
Bobby Hansson: Creating Art from Cans and Other Cast-offs
Since 1955, Bobby Hansson, a noted craftsman and crafts photographer,
has developed sculpture, furniture and musical instruments from
found materials. Hansson initially used cast-offs because they were
free. But soon he discovered a unique ability to look at an object
and see something else in it. His particular talent for transforming
the ordinary into the extraordinary is displayed in his popular
book, The Fine Art of the Tin Can.
The book shows incredibly varied objects made from tin cans (aluminum
not allowed) by Hansson and 90 other experienced artists. Hansson
wrote, "I'm very serious about art and craft, but I believe there's
room in life--and in arts and crafts--for fantasy, humor and even
silliness." His work has been shown at many museums including
The American Craft Museum in New York City, the Renwick Gallery
in Washington, DC., and the Oakland,Ca. Museum.
Leo Sewell: Assembling
Sculpture from Scrounged Materials
Leo Sewell, a Philadelphia-based artist, grew up near a dump and
played with the man-made objects he found there. He pulled them
apart for fun until his parents suggested that he try putting them
together. He's been doing just that for over 40 years. Sewell creates
highly decorated sculptures composed of cast-offs, assembled with
nails, bolts and screws; both the frame and surface of each sculpture
is made from found materials. He has a large workshop holding scrounged
discarded objects organized in 2,000 categories e.g., gold-coated
sharks teeth, corn holders, Fisher-Price people). Sewell has a M.A.
in art history but decided to jump over the counter and create art.
Self taught, he believes that, "Chance is the greatest creative
force that can happen." His sculptures are found in more than
40 museums worldwide including the American Visionary Art Museum,
in Baltimore, the Philadelphia Children's Museums as well as in
several of Ripley's Believe It or Not Museums throughout the country.
Three large pieces were recently installed in the Atlanta Airport.
To see more of his work, visit: http://www.leo.sewell.net
Where To See Art
Using Recycled Materials
American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM)
800 Key Highway Baltimore, Maryland.
The Art of War and Peace, October 6, 2001-September 1, 2002.
250 works by 65 self-taught artists,
dealing with the struggle between the power of good and the power
of evil in one's own heart and soul.
The Noyes Museum
Lily Lake Road
Oceanville, New Jersey 08231
ReCreation/Recreation: The Fine Art of the Tin
Can, January 12 - April 28, 2002.
Snug Harbor Cultural Center
1000 Richmond Terrce
Staten Island, New York 10801-1199
Artists Respond to the Closure of the Staten Island Landfill, October
14, 2001-January 13, 2002. A multi-discipline exhibition by 19 artists
commenting on issues relating to trash: consumption and identity,
environmental impact and the benefits of by products--to name a
few. (Please note: Fresh Kills, allegedly the largest landfill
on Earth, was closed March 22, 2001, only to be reopened on September
13 to receive the wreckage of the World Trade Towers.)
Ames Gallery Specializing in Contemporary Naive-Visionary 18th-20th
Century Folk Art
Berkeley, California 94708
Ongoing collection contains objects using found
Richard Stockton College Gallery
If you know of others, please let us know. info@Eco-Artware.com
P.O. Box 195
Pomona, New Jersey 08240-0195
Artists and the Environment, November 8-November