Rather ironic place to find this, don’t you think?
Rather ironic place to find this, don’t you think?
I’ve been gleaning for some time now and beyond the many shared experiences I have had with the other gleaners, such as the overwhelming amount of stuff/trash as well as the shock of how much is thrown away, I find that what is most challenging is trying to decide what is actually “good stuff.” What does that even mean? I’ve come to determine “good stuff” is anything that can be reused again for its intended function, much of which is donated to our companion gleaners from Cracked Pots and St. Vincent. The other “good stuff” meaning for me is anything that an artist can use to repurpose in a new way that continues the story of the object.
Gleaning “the right” material from such a vast quantity of different materials has proven to be the most challenging aspect of the residency for me. I’m still searching for how I define what my “good stuff” specifically is. My art practice prior to this residency has always entailed certain limitations, rules or restrictions that I have assigned to the making process, i.e., only using specific materials, repetitive processes, and often-times working with multiples. This allows me to more easily define what the overall look or feeling to the piece as well as the message it will communicate to the viewer. I could easily put the same constraints on this making process during this residency, but now that my material options have been magnified to gargantuan proportions, I must make it my priority to explore new rules or systems to deal with such a vast difference in material choices.
I have the resources and the materials now to go further than I have gone before in my making process. I’m determined to try new things as well as use materials I’ve never worked with. What I enjoy the most with new materials is exploring how they can be combined, or connected. This is my first priority in gleaning “the right stuff,” “the good stuff.” The question I have for myself right now is, how do I make all this junk start looking like art?–I believe part of it will be how I resolve combining it all together.
It’s difficult not to feel overwhelmed when gleaning for materials at the Transfer Station. The enormous piles of debris tower so vastly above and beyond that I cannot help but relate to them as landscape. Their folds, crevices and heights take on the form of mountain peaks, canyons, plateaus and crags. As I step back, I perceive this hyper sense of shifting landmass. Each push of the bulldozer replicates tectonic shifts in rapid fast forward. Items tumble from the summit and regroup in the valley bed like accelerated erosion.
My state of complete awe and jaw-dropping visceral sensations are masked by the human social shell. I maintain contact eye contact and exchange friendly smiles with the workers and patrons of the station. I shake the residual fascination with the twitch of a head and realize that I am here with work to do. “Hawkeye” is the mantra that I repeat in my head…
to be continued…
Last Sunday was Easter and I was going to the transfer station to glean. I am not a christian and I don’t watch television, so I forgot it was Easter. When I realized I was not hopeful for quantity or quality. Well, I was wrong the spirit of giving follows me magically and I am very grateful for that!!
I have to admit it was not busy but I found things that I needed and wanted, but actually didn’t think I could find at a place such as the city dump. One of those things was tea. I have a large collection of used tea bags that I have saved over the past 7 years but for this project I am only to use what I find here and now. I scored!! I found a large bag full of new tea and even organic teas.
There was other cute and appropriate findings.
Now I am actually starting to create. I will post more of that in the next few weeks.
Just returned home from a GLEAN! Eh, the pickins’ were “so-so” but it is a thursday, not as big and fast as weekends. I like the pace on weekdays though.
A “working tip” I’ve come to practice while gleaning:
-For every 10 seconds checking out a pile spend at least 2 checking out what’s going on behind me. Maybe because I’m wearing a vest and hardhat, people coming in to dump just assume I’ll get out of the way before they swing the front end around to back in. Not to mention the giant yellow iron machines plowing the pile every hour or so!
It’s a well oiled machine all these people doing their parts and, safety is always the top thing on every ones’ minds. The crews working here on the floor just know, some body driving in is going to do something dangerous eventually!
OK! Some of my score today includes:
some long wood bits n’ pieces and more wire. A bunch more stuff I don’t have in front of me at the moment. The van was full for certain! But I didn’t find my mini trampoline frame as I hoped / need!
And now the ” I’m trying to smile but, I’ve just seen too much” part of my entry here.
Dang nabbit!! Why are we constantly making too much stuff!!???
‘Had the thought today, I think every manufacturing companys’ executives and owners should have to spend a month observing if not working at dumpsites and reclaimation centers. Starting with Manufacturers of outdoor grills, mattress and beds and, plastic containers. Single use item /container manufacturers should have to pay a heavy tax for using plastics. Oh this could go on…
It’s the darn Gillette brothers mindset that products need to have a limited lifespan in order to maintain a steady customer/ consumer base/ demand! Darn those Gillette brothers! So the question becomes: When does this over producing / manufacturing limited life products become less profitable than a sustainable limited run of producing them? I understand the ratio is something like: Out of every 100 “household” items produced, only 37% are ever purchased! This ranges from furniture to shoes to car batteries to electronics and even our food!! It’s disgusting to think this is how many companies operate. As if the demand for lawn furniture is gonna suddenly overwhelm the supply! Ugh!
Think about this next time you’re out in the world of plentiful retail choices: Almost 70% of what you see on the shelf is possibly gonna’ end up wasted or in a landfill! Sad but not hopeless yet. Our dollars change practices. Awareness brings minds together and can change these old, unsustainable practices. We can’t even assume manufacturing companies are aware of the size and urgency of this problem.
I’m scheduled to go “shoppin'” tomorrow! For a week or so I’ve been thinkin’ I need to get out there. I’ve made my list of needs and wants. Some I just know will be there,
Mini exercise trampolines – Big 6″ x 6″ wood cutoffs – office chairs – steel computer and stereo cases.
Wrestling some curved steel for my first GLEAN piece, I really came to appreciate the materials I’m working with. Some things found are of such quality materials that it surprises me that it is used for the things it is.
On the other hand, much older items used materials of lesser quality but, more of it! So it seems kinda’ like: Things that were made with insides to last forever had wood and tin-like materials on the outside. While things with parts that will only last 3 years or so, have high tensile steel as outer shells. I suppose to “feel” more like it will last forever. Anyhow, 3 sq ft. and up of nice, weld-able steel sheets for me!
Thursday GLEANins are a bit slower than the weekends but it’s kinda’ better for finding metal. Seems like it builds up longer until the weekend when the yellow iron comes through and carts it off to be further processed.
I Love what is going on there! Several companies working together to tackle an ongoing and ever increasing component / issue to our society. Getting to the issues from the various sides through creative thinking. Again, if only every city could adopt such programs across the country and world… more awareness itself could make such a massive difference not to mention the percentage of materials, space, water sources and, money that could be saved!
For now, I’ll just see what I can save from the ‘fill when I go shoppin’ tomorrow.
The last few times I have visited the transfer station I was a little disappointed at the lack of treasures I found. I heard from the regulars that Sat. was the best day……..
Well, I have to admit that I got lucky on my first visits and was overwhelmed with wonderful trash that I can use to start my collection. Ultimately, it is a good thing when I dont find perfectly good items in the trash heap. (well that is a matter of opinion) Good job Portland! I know your saving it for another day though.
The collection that I am working on for the show in August is themed Spiritual Warrior. I have already done some research and am inspired by what I see as my vision. The visits I have made thus far have also reviled and informed me on my direction. True magic! I have discovered some spirit animals recently and am grateful for there presents.
So Much Stuff! So Much Good Stuff! If I think it too far, it can be depressing /maddening. Are there really so many “out of touch” people in Portland?…in the U.S.?!
Clothes, furniture, tools, electronics, appliances…Someone “upgraded” and just tossed out the “old” Meanwhile, Kids without a computer, coats, toys….a guy looking for work who needs some tools or boots….New mom who needs a stroller or a crib….have to go without or try and buy what they need….Ugh! Don’t think about it too much!!
It is a happy sight though, to see St Vincents and the rebuilding center people out there sifting through the hill of the discarded and bringing these things back into circulation!
If only every major city in the U.S. had a ” Metro / Cracked Pots / GLEAN” and could model their own Reclamation centers off of ours…the impact (reduced impact) would be…Phenomenal!!
Reduction of “waste” in our “landfills” AND an extra bonus that helps those in need! What could be better?
Oh yeah, Think before you buy…Think before you toss it!!..
and here in the NW...Free-pile it first!!!
What a big score I had on Tuesday! Just when lamenting to myself what a slow day at the transfer station, and wondering if the new overalls I found in the pile were going to fit me, in pulls a little pickup truck loaded only with firehoses. Beautiful, never used firehoses! I guess they were past their expiration date (who knew?). I don’t know what I’ll do with these lovelies, but I’m excited!