Be transformed with the 2011 Art of Trash exhibition.
The show, which presents artists with the task of transforming castaway objects - not only gives the everyday items a new life - it alters the state of the viewer, as he or she inevitably takes in fresh perspectives, thus becoming part of the regenerative, cyclical process from old to new.
Presented by the Community Work Program, the exhibition, which opened at Maui Mall on Friday, began in 1997 with multifaceted purpose. It showcases the talents of Maui County artists in using recycled materials; and it challenges the way the community defines reuse by presenting creative options to keep recyclable items from landfills, promoting sustainability and environmental care. The show was created by Ira Ono, a Big Island artist who specializes in recycled materials; he also serves as juror.
Deybra Fair’s “Shelter from the Storm”
With the interest in environmental issues increasing over the years, the community exhibition has also grown, according to coordinator Wilma Nakamura. This year, more than 100 entries were received and about 70 were chosen for the show. Four pieces were recognized with awards.
"From an aesthetic, artistic point of view, we ask that the material is transformed," Nakamura said. "The material is so transformed that you see the piece first . . . then you have fun trying to figure out what it's made out of."
On another level, the show sets out to alter the way the community views and participates in recycling and reuse.
2011 ART OF TRASH AWARDS
Juror's Choice award: Worm, "Monster Torque"
Second place: Deybra Fair, "Shelter from the Storm"
Third place: Joy Webster, "Found"
Fourth place: Michael Nowak, untitled
"Maui's Art of Trash has always had a playful energy and an underlying awareness of just how serious a matter reuse and recycling can be," Ono said in a juror's statement.
But what isn't taken into account is that each person who walks through the humble doors of the exhibit space located next to Genki Sushi will be part of a possibly unplanned transformation, too. The viewer can't help but be moved on a level of pure enjoyment - sifting through the tea bags used to create a colorful sack in Sally Daniels' "Tea Bag Bag," checking out the plastic bottle necks that are molded into delicate flowers in Jennie Porter's "Plastic Perennials," tracing the patterning and reflections of D. Bauer's "Rainbow GarBridge," and toying with the tiny creatures created from an Altoids box, an old lightbulb and other doodads in Tim Gunter's "The Gang."
Enjoyment, too, comes with mixed emotions.
Deybra Fair's "Shelter from the Storm" is a seamingly endless exploration of dreamlike knickknacks and oddities placed in a charming and disturbingly paradoxical state. The shelter is constructed from wooden drawers, fences, frames, metal wires and an array of other materials. At first glance, the haven creates a singular space and yet with each moment, the work seems to expand and unfold, revealing new discoveries and secrets. The multileveled structure evokes senses of wonder, awe, attraction and almost equal repulsion. The delights of finding Fair's angel hair pasta box, polka dot heels, rusted grater and other "essentials" evoke a childlike journey through storybooks, dreams and alternate realities. Then the adult understanding of the broken-down materials, the rusted, stagnant objects, and the hoarded castaways provoke a sort-of pain, thus beginning a conversation of barriers and solitude.
One wonders whether the sanctuary of sorts is instead a prison, a wall between self and others, or disillusionment embodied in objects, obstacles that have become immoveable over time.
Pieces like Fair's conjure concepts beyond what could've been anticipated. And for that reason, the annual Art of Trash creations, and each and every one of its creatures, have a place on the planes of enjoyment, creativity and regeneration, making the old new again.
And for even more metamorphosis, check out the work of Pomaika'i students. Youngsters from the next generation of island caretakers offer beyond-their-years insight in recognizing environmental concerns and commenting via creativity on challenges and resolves.
So take part in the transformation; you won't regret it.
* The 2011 Art of Trash exhibition is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays through May 14 next to Genki Sushi in the Maui Mall. For more information on the show, call Nakamura at 573-3911.
* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at email@example.com.