Welcome to Trashtastic Tuesday, the first in an ongoing series of Q & A’s with trash personalities. In preparing for a week of interviews with trash artists, two things occurred to me. First, artists are not the best at meeting deadlines. Second, why burn good material all in one week and dilute the thoughtful commentary of those in the trash world I most respect by jamming their interviews into a single jamboree of formatted questions and answers? Et voila. Behold the first trashtastic post, a conversation with Diane Kurzyna, a.k.a. Ruby Re-usable, an inspirational artist based out of Olympia, Washington and a garblogger in her own right.
everydaytrash: What inspired you to use trash in your art?
Kurzyna: I have used “trash” materials in my art for a long time, I grew up by the dumps of New Jersey…I specifically used trash materials when I was a freshman in high school (Kearny High, class of ’76) to make a figurine out of a frozen concentrate can, a burnt-out light bulb, plastic cutlery, and some wire that was laying around the art room. The art room was being packed up to move to a new building, and all the “good” supplies were inaccessible, so this was part necessity/part novelty. As a sophmore in college (Rutgers U, class of ’81), I collaborated on a 3 woman weaving that was “anything but wool,” using unnatural materials found in the garbage or gutter or garage as a protest against the earthtone pallette that was prevelant at the time. I tried to use more traditional materials when I was an art student at theUniversity of Washington, but was compelled to return to my roots as a trash artist, inspired by Northwest artists like Ross Palmer Beecher, Buster Simpson, and especially Marita Dingus. Using trash to make art is a challenge that I embrace: using precious materials to make art seems so easy and obvious, but to make art from trash is like making a silk purse from a sow’s ear.
everydaytrash: What’s your favorite piece of trash art by another artist?
Kurzyna: Oh my, there are so many, but I would have to say that Northwest artist Marita Dingus is my favorite trash artist, she is fearless when it comes to using stuff most people throw away! My favorite piece by her is “Buddha as a Captured Slave,” which is 60′ long. It was shown at theMuseum of Glass in Tacoma, WA:
everydaytrash: Does using unwanted and discarded material in art count as recycling?
Kurzyna: Oh, yes, using unwanted and discarded materials means I am not buying supplies new, I am not adding to the waste stream, and I am transforming them into something else. When I work with kids and show them how to make art from discards, it causes them to rethink what is junk; it also sparks creative problem solving. Trash artists are alchemists, turning base materials into gold.
everydaytrash: Is trash a political medium?
Kurzyna: It can be. I think the reasons artists make art from trash are as varied as the artists themselves. I make art from trash as an enviro-political statement, calling attention to human inguenity as well as human excess. The trash I specifically use is related to my life as an angry housewife, so the medium is also a feminst statement. I try to live by the motto: Make Art Not Waste!
Photos provided by the artist:
“Portrait of the Artist as a Jewish Mother” 2004 (top), “Bag Lady at the Freewall” 2006 and Renascene” installation 2007.
Check them out on her web site as well, this site is being funky with photos, which makes it tricky to share big ones with you without distorting them into long, skinny streaks!
Check back next week for another installment of Trashtastic Tuesday.