This weekend the Santa Fe Community Convention Center is getting trashy. Celebrating its 14th year, the Recycle Santa Fe Art Festival kicks off on Friday and continues through Sunday. Everything on display is composed of a minimum of 75 percent recycled materials, giving a new meaning to the concept of resourcefulness.
The event is composed of three parts: the art market, in which 81 artists display and sell their innovative pieces; the art exhibition, a juried show with 21 participants and categories for kids, teens and adults; and the Trash Fashion & Costume Contest, a longtime local favorite that has spawned similar shows across the country.
Festival coordinator Sarah Pierpont believes this to be the nation's foremost recycled art festival and points out that it's certainly one of the longest-running. Originally staged in an abandoned warehouse, the festival experienced a successful six-year stint at El Museo Cultural before finding its current home. This year's fashion show will have twice the amount of seating, as well as more participants from around the country showcasing attire that might be labeled conservationist, but never conservative.
Don't expect models to strut their stuff rocking just a trash bag or some newspaper and masking tape; Pierpont notes that of the show's approximately 60 participants, "many have been preparing a year in advance."
The festival questions the notion that art is a process of creating something out of nothing. Instead, participants envision new uses for old objects in an effort to challenge preconceptions of what is disposable. Many of the items in the art market are actually functional—purses, jewelry, clocks, lamps and beyond. Others are decorative, but each work is a reminder of the false line demarking waste and value.
This is especially true of items that come from our own backyard. Mitch Berg, a local artist, composes his art from scrap metal and glass that he finds along the Santa Fe River. "Being a frustrated writer, I use glass to tell stories," he states on his website. These stories reincarnate the broken and the discarded into characters and images that are oddly, darkly triumphant in their newfound forms.
Other artists, like Phoenix-based Aaron Voigt will remind attendees of the work of atomic artist Tony Price (who died in 2000). Price melded activism and art in a similar way, using castoffs from the Los Alamos National Laboratory to create peace-inspiring works in an effort to counteract what he referred to as "our [collective] nuclear nightmare."
Recycle SF is a great way to get in the spirit for America Recycles Day (Nov. 15). Come on Friday night to view our very own Ms (and Mr) Captain America pageant. Kids can channel their love for playing with garbage into pieces of art at the make-and-take corner on Saturday and Sunday.
If you don't end up leaving with a piece of recycled art, at the very least, you'll leave with some new ideas about managing waste.
Recycle Santa Fe Art Festival: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Nov. 2–4. Times and prices vary. Santa Fe Community Convention Center, 201 W Marcy St., 955-6590