There’s excess in America, and you can call it what you like: consumer culture, throw-away culture, single serve mentality, just about any such phrase will do. In the end it boils down to nothing but depressing statistics about pounds of textile waste and plastics and worse which won’t degrade for a million years. Those are ugly incontrovertible facts, and alas, no reinterpretation of those statistics is beautiful. However, there are people out there who function a little like magicians, turning these statistics into something full of wonder. This magician artist takes what is obviously one thing and transforms it into something else.
This is the growing field of Recycled Art.
In Salem, there’s a little known secret spot on the road to the Ferry which I like to call the Sculpture Garden. Inside a gated and slightly unkempt backyard is a menagerie of welded behemoths, dragons, curiosities. It’s possible to peer through the bars at the beasts, but a small sign beckons you to enter the wonderland as well. So my son and I did, and this is some of what we found.
I love this chaotic wildland of rubbish and beauty because it seems to me a place where statistics are overcome. Sure, these things are trash, leftover excess or waste depending on your view, but they’ve been transformed into something new and beautiful by a visionary. Entering the gates feel like Alice in Wonderland stepping through a looking glass, encountering mechanical oddments it’s just a little hard to believe exist, and with voracious teeth and eyes to boot. I recommend visiting (particularly before or after a trip to Salem’s Captain Dusty’s) and looking with new eyes at trash, perhaps even being inspired to try your own hand at creating something new out of something used.