Pensacola, Florida
Tuesday September 17th 2019

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Trashy Art

By Jeremy Morrison

One person’s trash, so it goes, is another’s treasure—or, in this instance, art.

In an effort to raise awareness about the amount of trash threatening the environment and, in particular, local waterways, Keep Pensacola Beautiful and the First City Art Center are teaming up to present the inaugural Pieces Adrift show, an art exhibition and auction on Saturday, Sept. 7, featuring works fashioned from trash found in the area.

“It’s local litter, local art,” said Jessica Irwin, director of programming and development with Keep Pensacola Beautiful.

Throughout the year, Keep Pensacola Beautiful hosts community clean-ups all over the area. During the events, volunteers collect all matter of litter. And this year, the organization set some aside and cleaned it.

“It’s from all of our beach clean-ups, park clean-ups and roadside litter,” said Sigrid Solgard, the nonprofit’s executive director.

“Things that would not go away—the plastics, the metal, the chips bags, the coffee cups,” said Irwin, explaining that any biodegradable, wet or otherwise unusable material was separated out.

From this litter—previously an environmental drag—will arise works of art.

“It’s incredible what people have been able to create,” Solgard said.

“The things we’ve seen so far really speak to the spirit of the event,” Irwin agreed. “We had a group of kids that created a sea turtle out of trash.”

Over at the First City Art Center, Events Manager Kelly Schmidt has also been impressed with the entries thus far.

“So far, the work we’ve received is amazing in its creativity and manipulation of trash into a piece of art that would look great on any wall or office desk,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt said that the art center is excited to be bringing attention to such an important issue through works of art.

“By bringing awareness to the littering problem that threatens our waters, we can encourage new and productive ways of thinking about trash in order to promote recycling, repurposing, reducing and reusing, she said.

Those things—recycling and thinking about trash creatively—have been on Jane Hatcher’s radar for a while. The artist, who teaches art at the Creative Learning Academy, embraces the concept of repurposing in both her life and art.

“I try to do a lot of up-cycling with my kids, and I try to do that with my art too,” Hatcher said.

For the Pieces Adrift show, the artist collected her own trash. She mostly gathered litter from inlets of the Escambia Bay and along the bluffs off of Scenic Highway. And she was surprised how rich of a harvest she was able to pull due to the amount of litter discarded.

“Like, trash all over … people just not taking care of our world,” Hatcher said.

The art teacher decided to focus on glass litter in particular, which, again, she found in abundance.

“I was really shocked at how much glass is discarded,” Hatcher said, recalling an instance where she almost sliced her foot open. “It’s dangerous, so it’s even more alarming that people are like, ‘Meh, it doesn’t matter.’”

Hatcher’s finished piece features a fully-intact Coke bottle she found.

“That’s kind of the centerpiece,” she said. The piece lights up from the inside and is designed to resemble coral reef.

“It doesn’t really even really look like trash,” Hatcher said.

Hatcher’s art, as well as the work of the other artists participating in the Pieces Adrift show, will be up for grabs and auctioned off as part of the event. The money raised through the auction will go toward supporting scholarships for art students at First City as well as toward supporting Keep Pensacola Beautiful’s work on its Harmony Parks project.

Schmidt said the scholarships are important in enabling the center to provide art instruction to students who otherwise not be able to enjoy such an enriching experience.

“This past summer, we awarded 36 camper scholarships to attend a week of Creatisphere Summer Art Camp,” she said. “Beginning this September, we are giving a scholarship for an Art Lab class. We hope to grow the scholarship program through fundraising events in an effort to make art classes accessible to more of our community.”

Harmony Parks is a project Keep Pensacola Beautiful is working on at Englewood Park, near the Boys and Girls Club. The project aims to install instruments-as-playground-equipment at the park.

“They’re like big musical instruments,” said Solgard.

“Equipment like this is not just designed for kids but also for adults to play with them,” Irwin said, explaining how the concept is designed to inject energy into an area beyond the playground.

While the nonprofit has some corporate sponsors lined up—like Walmart, AARP and Pensacola Opera—the group is hoping funds realized through the Pieces Adrift auction puts Harmony Parks within reach.

“This event will help us bridge that last little bit,” Solgard said.

In addition to the exhibit of trash-turned-art, the Pieces Adrift will also feature offerings from food trucks and drink stands, as well as live music from Honey Daze and Tanya Gallagher. The first 200 attendees will also receive a reusable metal straw.

Pieces Adrift
WHAT: An art show and auction to benefit Keep Pensacola Beautiful and First City Art Center
WHEN: 5 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 7
WHERE: First City Art Center, 1060 Guillemard St.
COST: $10; Free for FCAC or KPB members
DETAILS: facebook.com/firstcityartcenter, facebook.com/keeppensacolabeautiful