Being an artist means looking at one thing and seeing another, creating order from chaos. A lot of artists find potential in garbage, including my art students for the last week and a half as we upcycled waste to create fashion accessories. Upcycling is to use discarded objects to create something of higher quality.
I introduced my students to Vic Muniz through the film "Wasteland." Muniz is a Brazilian artist who went to the largest garbage dump in the world and recreated masterpieces using people who pick through the garbage for recyclables as models. Then they'd project the photos onto a large studio floor to make the image again using the recycled materials found in the dump. The installations were documented and photos sold. We also learned about El Anatsui, the Nigerian Artist who uses thousands and thousands of bottle caps to create large jewel like wall pieces that drape and sparkle.
For inspiration on our "Trashion" assignment I showed my students the Fashion Show scene from 80's cult classic, "True Stories." Suits made from grass, dresses in the shape of a wedding cake. What could be more fun than dressing up and pretending to be a model for a morning?
My adorable friends and colleagues, Melanie Thompson (above) and Sara Lynch (below) , share a classroom wall with me. They happened to have a Trash-ion Show assignment for their Environmental Science first period class the same month that I wanted to do an Up-cycled accessory assignment. So we shared garbage, shared students, and collaborated on this interdisciplinary project.
Boxes, canisters, cups, and packaging materials, bottles, aluminum foil, bulletin board borders, and egg cartons were all glued, and stapled before being painted.
The most popular and useful materials were long strips of cardboard and paper hot dog trays (left over from a summer camp). The hoop skirt, hat, and ruffled collar below were made from just these two materials. Lots of Hot glue and and spray paint disguise the materials, which then help disguise us as high fashionistas.