One man’s trash is another man’s treasure…or at least a museum exhibit.

If you’re looking for something a little different to do this weekend, and happen to be in the Salem, MA area, somewhat close to it, or if you’re in the mood for a road trip, then visit the Peabody Essex Museum. They have a new interactive Art & Nature Center exhibition opening this Saturday, June 20th. It’s called Trash Menagerie, and it features over thirty inventive artworks made from, well, trash. (I told you it would be different.)

The twenty-four artists featured in the exhibit use anything from piano keys and old electronic parts (not so gross) to water bottles and used cigarette filters (okay, kinda gross) to create animal artwork. One artist creates animals out of junk he found along the coast of Rhode Island, and another created a series of sweater dogs out of, you guessed it, old sweaters.

The exhibit may sound a little out there, and has a tiny “ew” factor, but the point is to “encourage visitors to see the creative potential embodied in everyday objects” and to look at the environmental impact we all have every time we throw something away. It also encourages recycling–what better way to reuse an old detergent bottle than to turn it into a fish?

To coincide with the exhibit’s opening day, the museum is hosting the Animals All Around program. The day will be filled with hands-on activities and demonstrations, and features a screening of Wall-E, a movie about a robot who is designed to clean up a polluted and abandoned Earth. They’ll also be showing Garbage Warrior, which documents the “renegade architect” Michael Reynolds and his battle to build earthships. Yeah, I had no idea what that meant, but apparently, earthships are “long-lasting, eco-friendly, off-the-grid homes constructed of garbage.” Well, of course, how silly of me. I totally should have known that.

One of the coolest-sounding pieces is New York artist and puppeteer Chris Green’s interactive horse shadow puppet. He built it out of broken umbrellas he found discarded on the streets of NYC. Visitors will be able to make the horse form gallop across the wall.

If I didn’t have a serious phobia of touching something that potentially hundreds of other people have touched and transferred their germs to, I would be all over this exhibit. I can’t even put my hand in a bag of chips that someone else has had their hand in, so picking up garbage and turning it into art might be a bit of a hurdle for me to get over. Seriously though, if I lived closer, I would definitely check this out. It’s different, quite forward-thinking, and very family-oriented, so children can learn the importance of reusing and recycling in a fun, un-schoolike setting.

Check out PEM’s website for more information on the exhibit, as well as more about the museum and the other activities offered there. And the next time you see a beer bottle on the side of the road, turn it into a giraffe. (Beer…longneck…giraffe…get it? Anybody? Bueller?) Well, at least find a recycling bin.

Filter Rabbit, 2000, Tom Deininger, 13" x 7" x 5", used cigarette filters, ceramic form; Sulphur Blue Smeck, 2005, Michelle Stitzlein, 62" x 84" x 11", mixed junk, photo credit: Tom Little; Camel, 2006, Ann Smith, 9" x 11" x 3", used electronic parts.

Filter Rabbit, 2000, Tom Deininger, 13" x 7" x 5", used cigarette filters, ceramic form; Sulphur Blue Smeck, 2005, Michelle Stitzlein, 62" x 84" x 11", mixed junk, photo credit: Tom Little; Camel, 2006, Ann Smith, 9" x 11" x 3", used electronic parts.

 

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3 thoughts on “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure…or at least a museum exhibit.

  1. Hi, Trusty..While your readers are in Salem, they might also want to stop by nearby Treasures Over Time, at 139 Washington St. The shop carries really beautiful gems and geologic objects–gifts and household items from mineral kingdom. (Jewelry, vases, plates, bowls–fossils, geodes, and finds that rockhounds will love). Also–if you don’t mind a bit of shameless self-promotion–an exhibit of my photos–fantastical rock formations taken on Lorne Beach, Australia, with explanations by an Australian geologist. The show will be up through Labor Day. Anita Harris

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