What do you do with that lone button that doesn’t match with anything in your closet? How about that piece of copper pipe left over from a plumbing renovation, or those old magazines you’ve finished reading?
Members of the Chilliwack Visual Artists Association are giving a new life to items that most people would likely toss in the trash or recycle bin.
The CVAA’s newest group show, Upscale Art, features work made from found, collected and recycled items. The show is at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre Nov. 20 to Dec. 28.
“It’s repurposing… creating out of materials that you come across,” Patricia Peters said of the art challenge she gave to her fellow members.
CVAA members were handed the project about two months ago. They were assigned to take something that might be discarded, or found at a garage sale, thrift store or recycle outlet and use the items to create interesting, high-quality art.
Some materials they’ve used include clock pieces, glass tiles, magazines, brown paper bags, century-old doorbells, receipts and tea tins.
Additionally, the group had obtained pieces of wood used as a backdrop in a Vancouver movie shoot, which were handed out to any members who wanted to use them as a canvas.
“It’s about creative living or being able to dig down deep inside to a creative area, and it’s sometimes an area that many people are afraid to go to because it’s scary,” Peters said. “Will people accept this? Will this be rejected? It’s an intimate part of us.”
Peters has created a few pieces for the show. One piece, Bachelor Pad, is a birdhouse made from wooden boards, metal, and hand-made paint. An old tap sits as a perch at the entrance of the birdhouse, while a vintage licence plate serves as a small awning above the tap.
“What do you keep those old things for but to repurpose it in your art one day,” she said. “This is the hippest bachelor pad in town, if you were a bird.”
Bill Butler, who usually works with photography and words, loved how the project pushed him out of his comfort zone.
“What I surprisingly found was the joy of creating more than I thought I was capable of,” he said. “A creative spark has been ignited in me to do more.”
In one piece he’s called Sew in Love, Butler has repurposed dozens of buttons and glued them in the shape of a heart to one of the boards. Another piece was done using a spaghetti colander by pouring different colours of paint into it and letting them drip in various directions creating a “sea creature” of sorts.
Christine Newsome really liked the challenge as well.
“I think artists can get a bit complacent about what they’re doing. Things that force you to think outside of the box are a really good thing,” she said. “We’re supposed to be creative people.”
She recycled an antique letterpress tray — an item once used for printed materials such as newspapers — and made an assemblage (a three-dimensional collage) out of it.
Small compartments that once held metal letters were now home to souvenirs from her trip to China 31 years ago and decorative pieces of Asian paper, tied together with bits of natural items like sticks from her backyard and walnuts.
“I had fun finding stuff to stick in it,” she said of her piece titled In the Sage’s Garden.
And like the variety of items found in Newsome’s piece, so too is the variety of artwork that’ll be shown by the more than 50 CVAA members.
“If we had the same paper, we would all [create] something entirely different,” Peters added.
Upscale Art runs Nov. 20 to Dec. 28 in the O’Connor Group Art Gallery at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre. Opening reception is from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 23. Admission is free. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Saturday from noon to 5 p.m.
There will also be a “pay-and-take” wall of art for sale, plus a draw for visitors to win an item at the end of the show from the pay-and-take wall.