Recycled Studios for Artists Pop Up in US Northeast

recycled studios habitat for artists photo

Temporary studios in New Paltz (L) and Redhook (R), NY. Photos: Habitat for Artists.

For the better part of the past three months, a small storefront in Peekskill, New York, has been home to a tiny, colorful plywood shed, measuring just 6 feet by 9 feet but housing at different times almost 30 artists, working in the shadow of their predecessors: The shed, dubbed "Studio Recycled," is made entirely of previous temporary structures -- complete with previous artwork -- that the Peekskill-based Habitat for Artists (HFA) has assembled around the U.S. Northeast.The nearly three-year-old Habitat for Artists project grew out of a series of small sheds local artist Simon Draper created in Beacon, New York, out of "used and recycled material, old lumber, windows and doors, and even unfinished art works," according to the blog of ecoartspace, a frequent collaborator with HFA. Artists invited to take up residency created their own small studio spaces inside and outside the structures, ecoartspace wrote:

They were asked to examine how they might redefine their creative space, needs, and process. These small studios, each only 6 by 6 feet, become an intimate work space for the artist -- but also act as a metaphor for viewers to contemplate how much space we really need in our own homes. How much? How little? space [is needed] to create is the question HFA poses. In other words -- how much more creative could we be as a culture if we used less materials, energy, and land?

In addition to building recycled work spaces and posing environmental questions, HFA also encourages the resident artists to incorporate sustainability and collaboration into their work. "I'm encouraging people to contribute materials and even completed projects to rework or share with others," Draper told the New York Times recently for an article about the Peekskill studio, one of the few thus far that have been located indoors.

Explaining that a shed could be assembled for about $1,500, including labor and maintenance, he said: "We're finding ways for artists to do work that is vibrant and vital without needing a huge budget" -- and without having a huge impact on the planet.

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