Recycle Santa Fe Art Festival 2010

Recycle Santa Fe Art Festival 2010

This is the Festivals twelfth year and – with over 50 participants – the biggest yet, attracting artists from Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Illinois, Alaska and Wyoming, as well as New Mexico. The range of recycled creations was extensive, from bags made out of book covers; wind chimes made from old flatware; mirrors framed by hand painted rubber tires and sculptures containing, literally, the kitchen sink.

Nancy Judds rubber dress

Nancy Judd's rubber dress. photo: Seoma Story

To see old brushes turned into hair, combs reborn as teeth and plastic bags transformed into clothing, is to see things through completely different eyes. The only requirement is that the artists work be made from at least 75% recycled materials. What they choose to do with those materials is entirely up to them. The result is an Aladdins cave of goodies ranging from whimsical to sophisticated. to, frankly, kitsch. But the underlying mission is loud and clear – to change the way this throw-away culture thinks about the environment.

One of the prime movers and shakers in that mission, Nancy Judd, was also there, displaying her latest “Ëśwork-in-progress, a surprisingly elegant cocktail dress, with a layered skirt constructed entirely from rubber tire inner tubes. Judds company, Recycle Runway, specializes in creating couture garments from recycled materials and displaying them in high traffic locations such as airports, to grab peoples attention. She recently gained national notoriety with a collection of couture garments made from Obamas election campaign materials.

Trash fashion has been part of the Recycle Santa Fe Art Festival from the start and the opening event was a full-blown fashion show, with models ranging from children to adults. The originality of the outfits was quite astonishing, incorporating such unlikely items as newspaper bags, bicycle chains, plastic food containers, old CDs, computer parts, candy wrappers, aluminum cans, old film and even sticky notes. First prize in the adult section went to a dress, with a skirt made from coffee bean bags and a bodice of woven plastic. Second place was awarded to a stylish, fringed cocktail dress, fashioned from shredded, white plastic bags.

After cruising the art market several times, theres no doubt about the sincerity, even the passion and dedication to the cause, of many of the artists involved. The works make you smile, even laugh out loud, and they certainly make you think. Whether, as a group, they fall within any recognizable definition of art is another matter, but thats not really the point. In this case, its the message that matters most, not the label and, furthermore, anything that brings a smile to your face, has to be a good thing these days.

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