December 22, 2011

Art exhibit to feature use of recycled materials

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- To paraphrase a common saying, one person’s throwaway may be another person’s artistic medium.

“Sustain,” a juried art exhibit coming to Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s University Museum in February, features the work of student artists who use recycled material.  A national call went out for submissions, and on Jan. 10, the list of artists included in the exhibit goes up on the University Museum website (

Nate Steinbrink, curator of exhibits for the University Museum, and the Museum Student Group, a Registered Student Organization, created the exhibit “as an exploration into the potential to re-purpose used goods into objects of artistic expression.”

The exhibit has several components of interest.  First, art submissions must include at least 70 percent waste material, which must have been turned into art.  Also, the exhibit is open only to collegiate art students -- those currently (or within the past six months) enrolled as undergraduate or graduate students.

Second, recycled art pioneers, the glass artists collectively known as CUD, individually as John Drury and Robbie Miller, are jurors for the competitive part of the exhibit.  Drury and Miller visited SIU Carbondale as visiting artists earlier this year, and demonstrated some of the ways in which they recycle glass into new works of art.

The juried exhibit includes cash awards for Best in Show ($300), and awards for second and third ($200 and $100 respectively).  The awards will be announced at the exhibit opening reception on Feb. 3.  The reception is 4-7 p.m.  The exhibit itself runs Feb. 3 through March 9. 

In addition to the focus on recycled materials and the art, Steinbrink will also focus on environmental responsibility as he and the students design the exhibit.  Steinbrink noted that some changes to the exhibit space will include LED bulbs instead of halogen bulbs, resulting in a 73 percent reduction in energy usage.  Pedestals for the exhibit will be made of recycled materials, and printing materials promoting and describing the exhibit will use paper with a minimum of 60 percent recycled content.

“The exhibition will serve as an example of environmentally conscious exhibition methods,” Steinbrink said.

The project got a boost from the SIU Carbondale Sustainability Council, which awarded the exhibit a grant of approximately $5,800.  The council helps administer the Green Fund, financed by the Green Fee students pay each semester.  All SIU Carbondale students, faculty and staff are eligible to apply for Green Fund project assistance.