Santa Fe Enchanted With Eco-friendly Art


Local indigenous dance group Rulan Tangen and Dancing Earth use costumes and sets made of recycled and organic materials. Photo via the Santa Fe Art Institute Blog.

A year-long show focusing on the four elements is bringing well-known environmental artists to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to create new works and engage with the community in what appears to be an up-and-coming hub for recycled and other eco-friendly art.The New York Times tipped us off to the trend with a recent travel piece that contained an intriguing description of a 10-foot-tall recycled tree, its leaves "made of green plastic bottles cut up to resemble bushy, brilliant foliage" and its trunk shaped from "old tire treads laid out in long, somehow elegant strips" to create "the form of a slender woman, fine and aquiline of feature, standing with her arms outstretched, like a cross between Mother Mary, a supermodel, and the crucifix high above Rio."

But one tree sculpture, as cool as it sounds, is hardly the extent of what's going on in the capital city of "The Land of Enchantment."

'Dancing Earth' With Recycled Costumes and Sets
For the year 2010, the Santa Fe Art Institute, which hosted the two Brazilian artists who made the recycled tree as part of a community-art project during their New Mexico residency, is focusing on "art as a vehicle for individuals, communities, and leaders to address environmental concerns" with its 25th-anniversary exhibit, "Elemental: Earth, Air, Fire and Water."


The recycled tree made by Brazilian artists Jonatas Rodrigues dos Santos and Everaldo da Silva Costa during their SFAI residency. Photo by Deanne Brown via freeDimensional.

A kick-off reception brought in the local intertribal group of contemporary indigenous dance artists Dancing Earth, who perform using costumes and sets made of all recycled and organic materials. Since then, the SFAI has hosted a lecture by the famous culture-jammers the Yes Men and the "Fundred Dollar Bill Project" initiated by artist Mel Chin, who is working with local schoolchildren to create original, hand-drawn interpretations of U.S. $100 bills to sell to raise money for lead-contamination remediation efforts in New Orleans and other inner-city areas.

Earthworks, Junk Art, and Victory Gardens
Yet to come are talks by Patricia Johanson, an environmental artist who "designs sewers, parks, and other elements of modern urban infrastructure to marry the needs of the local flora and fauna to [those of] the people living in the area"; Amy Franceschini of the artists' group Futurefarmers, which has, among other projects, worked to revive "victory gardens" in order to boost food security; and earthworks artist Nancy Holt, whose piece Sky Mound also serves as a source of alternative energy.

Apart from the SFAI, the New York Times writes, the members of the art collective Meow Wolf host "Throwdown" nights to spontaneously create art out of broken toys, shards of woods, bits of wire, and other recycled junk. "People are very supportive," collective member Quinn Tincher told the paper. "They donate stuff all the time. Just leave it for us in the parking lot. They know we'll use it."

More on recycled art:
Creative Reuse: Eco-Art Inspired DIY
Scrap Art Rocks: Bang a (Recycled) Gong, Get It On
Awesome Art for Green Geeks - Mona Lisa Made of Motherboards
Kenyan Artists Turn Dangerous, Polluting Materials into Inspiring Depictions of Wildlife
Recycled Shipping Container Becomes Art
Aurora Robson Makes Art From Recycled Plastic Bottles, Junk Mail
Cyclecraft Recycled Bike Art Show Tonight in Brooklyn
ScrapEden: Recycled Public Art

Tags: Artists | Arts | Exhibits | New Mexico