The quality I most admire in artists is their ability to see possibility in what many would overlook. This concept is clearly evidenced through the current exhibition held at the Arts Council through Aug. 17. “Reclaimed!” is sponsored by Waste Management and the city of Fayetteville’s Environmental Services Department. It highlights art that is made primarily with recycled, repurposed and found materials. This exhibition and the Arts Council of Fayetteville/ Cumberland County’s partnership with its generous sponsor has been in existence for many years. However, each year the results are radically different. This year, the organizers went national and put out a call for art to creatives from around the country.
Juried by Bryant Holsenbeck, an environmental artist from Durham, the Arts Council received more than 100 entries from artists across the nation, and just over half were selected for inclusion in this exhibition. Holsenbeck also chose first-, secondand third-place awards. First place went to Rebecca Siemering for “Tuft Enough.” Siemering, an artist from Pawtucket, Rhode Island, created what looks like a onesie for a child — made of dental floss and betting slips. From a distance, this work looks to be made from tufted wool or knitted material. Only a close examination reveals the unique materials used to create this work.
Second place went to Bill Sieber from Carbondale, Illinois, for “Ocean Sweep.” This work is remarkable in its simplicity, yet it reflects environmental concerns that are incredibly current. The artist strung together plastic drinking straws with fishing line to create a representation of a fishing net.
The third-place award went to Michael Weddington, an artist from Matthews, North Carolina, for “Piano Lessons: Old School, New Didactic.” The work is crafted from reclaimed piano keys and other hardware combined with wood and metal.
There are many other notable works in this exhibition, including several from local and regional artists. Sherry Young, from Fayetteville, has two works in “Reclaimed!” — including a fish made from Styrofoam cups and a seahorse made from zip ties. Raul Rubiera, also from Fayetteville, has a piece that is striking in its minimalism and balance. It is made from two saw blades connected by a branch and mounted on a slice of a tree trunk.
Many works, like Rubiera’s, are not just works of beauty created with recycled, reclaimed and found materials; they also state something more profound. Rubiera describes his work as “a mixture of natural materials and the tools that transform that material into a tamed object.” While the description and the work itself does not place judgment on the materials or usage thereof, it does make the viewer think more critically about what we toss aside to make our lives more comfortable and more convenient.
Art has the power to make us think critically about our lives. This exhibition does just that while also showcasing the transformative nature of objects and the art that can be created from what is normally discarded.
This exhibition is on display at the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County, 301 Hay St., until Aug. 17. For gallery hours and more information, visit www.theartscouncil.com.