Beyond Green, Recycling, and Sustainable Materials
The Smart Museum of Art in Chicago recently featured an exhibit “Beyond Green: Toward Sustainable Art”. To paraphrase, it examines some of the ways in which contemporary artists are exploring a socially and environmentally conscientious—in other words, sustainable—way of living and working. Ranging from the practical to the rhetorical, the projects in Beyond Green seek to transform the ways we make, use, and dispose of the stuff of everyday life.
I could probably wax on about my change of lifestyle from corporate city life to rural country artist more than you may want to read. But the move to a different lifestyle, the constant appreciation for what nature has to offer, and a newfound awareness of the abundance of recycled, antique, reusable, or simply discarded materials available to me as artist never ceases to amaze me.
The challenges of the American farmer to hold on to, maintain, and repair the traditional farm buildings and infrastructure is a very real financial issue for them. I have my own set of 7 different outbuildings on my farm, and understand first hand the money it takes to keep and preserve them. And yet these antique buildings and the old growth lumber used in constructing them is what provides me the unique and differentiating character and beauty of my work. I discovered that I cannot single-handedly preserve the buildings of the aging rural farm landscape, but in my own small way I can take the materials destined to be burned and buried and give them a new life to live in your cabin, in your kitchen, or at the hearth of your home through beautiful and elegant rustic art and home furnishings.
To recycle these old buildings into a more “green” designed piece of furniture or art is important to me. I hope that part of the reason you consider my work for your needs and desires is because we share an appreciation for the ethics of reuse and recycle, as well as a simple appreciation for the beauty and elegance of a more rustic design.
The following are small samples of what I find and how I reuse it:
- The quarter-sawn oak feed troughs from an 1890’s horse barn becomes a dining room table
- The weathered pine barn siding becomes elegant rustic picture framing
- 70 year old pasture fencing torn out and replaced by barbed wire becomes trim on artful sofa tables
- Rough sawn cottonwood and box elder trees used for barn siding in 1901 used as unique coffee table tops
- Buckthorn trees that plaque the urban landscape can be removed and used as elegant parlor table bases
- Twigs, branches, and limbs from a local burning pile are salvage for trim on fine Adirondack furnishings
- Salvaged farm sawn lumber discarded in piles in pastures around the state form the elegant jewelry box
- Small scrap copper pieces from construction sites becomes hand-pounded Mission Style accents on cabinets
- Rotting horse harness leather from draft teams of the 1800’s found in barns is used as decorative trim on table aprons
- And on and on...