Pablo Picasso used garage stuff from his Parisian neighborhood to create his art: an old bike became “Bull’s Head”, a basket, scrap metal, and ceramic jugs became “She-Goat”; etc. Plenty of other artists have repurposed trash in the name of art: Robert Rauschenberg’s junkshop items and most iconically Marcel Duchamp’s urinal.
In San Francisco, dumpster diving for art has become institutionalized. For over 2 decades, the city’s recycling and compost company, Recology, has selected several artists every year to pick through the city’s waste in order to create their art.
The artists in residence have 24-hour access to the public disposal area; armed with shopping carts they can take anything back to the studio to create their art.
Program director Deborah Munk takes us on a tour of the Recology San Francisco waste disposal facilities where the goal is zero waste (they’re currently at 80%) and she shows us some innovative programs like the paint recycling program (where they create 3 new colors out of trashed paint and give it away for free).
Munk also takes us to the sculpture garden on-site where everything is made from trash, even a couple of tiny shelters (a cabin now used for storage and an art-house) where everything from the windows, doors, roofing, and even the screws were all collected from the dump.