Continuously surrounded by art, I write about my experiences and their influences on my artistic practices. I am a starving artist that spends every minute I can being exposed to as many types of art as possible.

Found Realities: Trash Into Treasure

Someone else’s trash can definitely be my treasure. When I started out creating art, I had a difficult time figuring out what I was going to do, therefore could not really know what I would need too far in advance.  The biggest problem this caused me was the cost.  Figuring out what I needed last minute and running to Lowe’s or Home Depot or the art store was not economical at all.  Fortunately, I now contemplate most of my projects for quite a while.  There are so many projects I want to work on, there is no way I could complete them all at once, and many of them evolve over time.  What this means for me is that I am much more patient.  And if I put in the effort, I can find more unique materials, often for free. I am excited because it is trash pick up in my neighborhood again.  It is now only once a year, but throughout the year in different neighborhoods around town.  I have never been organized enough to fully take advantage of this, I know I have seen a map outlining the different zones.  This year, I found many great surfaces that I am extremely excited about.  I have been incredibly busy this year, curating and representing other artists, that I haven’t had time to focus on my own art.  Not making a huge effort, everything was found as I did my regular driving, just keeping vigilant of my surroundings. As I had mentioned in my previous post about SAMA, Chakaia Booker inspired me to add rubber to my art supply stock pile.  People throw tires on their curbs all year long, but particularly when there is a huge trash pick up.  I simply stop and throw it in my trunk.  Used tire stores are also good resources.  They are dying to get rid of them, they have to pay to have them all hauled away.  I found I can take as many as I want if I stop there and ask.  Since I found they will be at my disposal at any time, I did agree to stop picking them up until I am ready to use them, to preserve the sanity in my house, and stop taking up so much space.  Apparently, I lied.  I could not resist when they were just sitting there, thrown to the curb.  Yes, I picked up a total of ten tires this round.

Jessica Garcia
Perseverance, 2008

In another post, I also referenced a found art show I had been invited in.  The piece was a broken window I found in front of someone’s house.  The window was broken, as if something was thrown through it.  When I saw it, I immediately had to pick it up.  I saw the broken dreams in this window.  I imagined the window being broken as a fight ensued, something being thrown at someone, missing and going through the window.  Or someone possibly trying to break into the house, again, shattering a sense of safety within the home, a man’s castle.  All the pieces clicked for me as I saw this piece laying in the pile of rubbish.  I simply titled it Broken Dreams, and it was accepted into the student show, only adding holes to suspend it from the ceiling.  From that show, I was invited into The DuChampions of Art at Lonestar Studios.  I was requested to alter the piece, so I changed it from its original negative found state by cleaning it and boarding it up, rendering it useful again, now titling it Perseverance. Since then, I have been drawn to windows.  They represent so much to me, dividing the private world from the public.  It is a part of a home, letting in light, keeping out adverse weather.  I find them to be both functional and revealing at the same time.  A window is a good framing device, painting surface, or as I mentioned earlier, can be an art piece all on their own.  My first window find is exciting, however, soon ends in disappointment.  I am unable to fit them in my car and I wasn’t prepared to strap anything to the roof.  That does happen when there is no preparation.  I have to let them go.  I did go back the next day, but they were gone.  That is how this goes –  a limited time opportunity. All is not lost.  Fortunately, while different, there are still plenty of windows thrown out.  I come across two different, smaller windows, deteriorating but with the frames and glass in tact.  That is a characteristic I love about finding old items.  The worn, weathered appearance often ties in conceptually with the ideas I am working with.  Separately, I find three framed window panes and yet at another stop, I find two window frames with no glass.  At this time I don’t have any specific project in mind, but I will contemplate them for a while.  I have noticed a few reoccurring themes that have found their way into my work, including windows and other parts that comprise a house. While I have been collecting doors for a while, I have recently begun to consider using drawers.  When I came across a pile of them, I had to grab a few.  They can be used as a possible display case, or hung as a shelf, but after some thought, I decided I want to use these shallow drawers as painting surfaces.  They just need to be cleaned up, then I can apply a few coats of gesso and sand.  I need to spend some time thinking about the imagery I want to use for these paintings.  That is the nature of how I work, contemplating over a period of time.  So far this has worked out well, I know when I am ready. But by far, my favorite find was this night stand.  I have been wanting to take my painting to a three-dimensional surface for while now.  Again, the excitement was instant when I saw it, like with the window.  The top is missing, but that can be easily replaced.  In fact, my head is already swimming with how I can take advantage of this.  In my drip paintings, I not only layer the drips, I layer the imagery.  Masking off as I paint, this creates a diminishing image, getting smaller within itself.  I think I would like to do this with wood, my image getting smaller, going deeper inside.  This has a topographical atmosphere, becoming a map of whatever image I want to explore.  This is something I might not have thought about if I had bought this new. I have never been interested in a brand new, polished look for my art.  This method of obtaining art supplies motivates my creativity and is extremely economical.  For not exuding too much effort, I actually found quite a few items I am excited to work with.  My ideas started brewing as soon as I had some inspiration.  All of this was free.  I just had to look around in what I did every day.  My total is three window panes, two complete windows, two empty window frames, one shutter door, three drawers, one night stand, and ten tires.

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5 responses

  1. Patty Henry

    Thank you Jessica, I loved the blog!

    August 2, 2012 at 8:38 am

  2. Pingback: •ρ• Mr. Lemonhead « Reflections on Reality

  3. Lol! I’ve never been interested in brand new when it comes to my furniture… the exception being mattresses of course. I also prefer previously loved items for the displays for the jewelry in my booth at shows. I love that you rescued these items from the landfill. I can’t wait to see what you create with all these “treasures”. 😉

    September 9, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    • Thanks! I have seen so many great display ideas with rescued frames, drawers, shutters, branches, the list goes on & on… I am excited to work on these great surfaces!

      September 10, 2012 at 9:54 pm

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