Phoenix looks for local artists to create art from trash piles

The artists will have four months to claim pieces of trash for their art projects. (Photo by Elenee Dao/Cronkite News)

Local artist Beth Shook collects discarded furniture parts to create her artwork.

“My work is about a narrative and about a story and we talked about seeing things differently. And every piece of furniture has a story. To incorporate that story into my story is part of why I use it again,” she said.

Recycling and reusing materials is the goal for the artists in residency pilot project, which is part of the Reimagine Phoenix initiative.

Rebecca Blume Rothman, public art project manager for Phoenix, says they hope to show how much trash is really wasted. “The hope with this project is that artists can add another layer to that conversation by showing what’s possible.” She said. “That cardboard is in fact paper and can be used.”

The artists will have four months to dig through all the trash and create artwork with what they find.

Shook says she always finds old furniture parts.

“I’ll come to the studio and there will be bed posts leaning against my door that someone was going to throw away,” she said.

Another man’s trash is an artist’s treasure.

The artists will have a large supply of different materials that they can pick up from the waste transfer station.

William Brown, the 27th Avenue solid waste superintendent, says they get a range of materials that could be used.

“Typically on an average day, we’ll see cardboard, plastics, tires, all kinds of metals and a lot of garbage,” he said.

Shook says she would be happy to live next to a lumberyard for wood or a place that would give her endless supplies.

“It would be exciting to be able have that resource. To always know I have this resource because it’s amazing what sparks an idea – you know – when you pick something up and you see the edge of a curve and you think, ‘oh my gosh,’ and it sparks this idea and the inspiration to move on and the motivation to create.”