4 Examples of the Artistry of Upcycling

A bike innertube made into a fashionable belt, painted cut-outs from credit cards made into dangling earrings, a necklace from hardware, a dress from Doritos bags. That’s just some of the many examples of inventive thinking at the “Make-Do, a Recycle and Upcycle Art and Fashion Show” at the K Gallery at Rhythmix Cultural Works in Alameda, Calif.

Before I attended the “Make Do” Show at the K Gallery, I wasn’t aware of the term “upcycled art.” Upcycling art embraces the beauty of things we use every day and would normally toss in the trash. I found a site that explains it in greater detail if you want to read more.

“Make Do” features Jennifer Serr, Leonie Holzman, Cheryl Hayward, Bette Barr, Brianna Learnihan, Julie Baron, Linda Lu Castronovo, Susan Leung, Tina Martin, Mary Loughran, Amy Zimmer, Upcycle Clothes, Debbie Callen, Nic Griffin, Chris Rummel, Phil Hargrave, Mary Elizabeth, Stephanie Rodriguez, Michelle Morgan, Joy Johnson, and Shevon Dieterich (and others whose names are not available).

Here’s some creations that caught my eye:

Trash Fashion by Nic Griffin
Trash Fashion by Nicola Griffin
Walking into the gallery I couldn’t miss the mannequins donned with San Francisco-based Nicola Griffin’s trash fashions.

Earrings designed by Cheryl Hayward
Earrings designed by Cheryl Hayward
Cheryl Hayward of Olivia Hayward Designs is an Oakland-based artist who, ironically, had taken classes lead by Michele Cassou and Stewart Cubley. You can read more about Cassou in a previous post. Hayward said she wanted to make art that was affordable and applying her artistry to jewelry-making meant more people could buy her art. I could see what she meant since that evening she made some sales.

Innertube belt designed by Leonie Holzman
Innertube belt designed by Leonie Holzman
Leonie Holzman has several pieces in the show including a halter top and a versatile medium-sized pouch. The photo shows a belt she designed using a bike innertube.

"Riveted Hardware" by Tara Evans
Riveted hardware by Tara Evans

This necklace by Tara Evans caught my eye. It’s made from riveted hardware, pyrite, and vintage ball chain.

The show’s up through May 4th in case you’re in the area. The next show at K Gallery involves pinball machines.

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Speaking for Millions of Petals in the Dust

There must be a Divine reason I am meeting more documentary filmmakers. I admire their ability to align a desire for social change with artistic expression. Most recently I met Nyna Pais Caputi. I could not ignore the power and urgency of her message.

She grew up in India, aware of the issues that surrounded the gender imbalance that involved the illegal killing of female infants and fetuses. When she and her husband wanted to adopt a female Indian girl they found that very few were available. They discovered statistics such as one in every six Indian girls in India don’t live to see their fifteenth birthday.

CBS News reported in an article on the worst places in the world to be a woman, that “India, while a rapidly developing country, still places great cultural burdens on women. In addition to incredibly high rates of human trafficking and prostitution involving women, especially girls, foeticide (the killing of fetuses) and infanticide with females is incredibly high there. As many as 50 million females are reported to have gone missing because of the practice in the last century.”

Caputi is the Director/Producer of “Petals in the Dust, the Endangered Indian Girls.” The film puts this gendercide issue into context and shows who is actively working on solutions.

Watch the official movie trailer. I just clicked on the Paypal button to contribute to funding for the completion of Caputi’s film.

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10 Memorable Quotes from the Founder of Point Zero Painting

Michele Cassou
Michele Cassou, photo by Suzanne Christine
I left my letterpress class early to meet a rock star in the world of creative exploration using intuitive painting (also known as “process” painting, and in this case “Point Zero Painting“). This is an area I’ve been exploring, since intuitive painting puts to words the method of painting I enjoy the most. It is more about the experience of painting rather than the product of painting.

Now I had a chance to see and meet the pioneer of Point Zero Painting. She was giving a presentation at John F. Kennedy University’s Art & Consciousness Talks. Her introduction included what some people I admire have said about her:

“Michele Cassou is a catalytic visionary: a fuse lighter who sends people rocketing into their creativity,” said The Artist’s Way author, Julia Cameron.

“Michele Cassou offers a wise and profoundly creative inspiration for the liberation of the human spirit. Just the way lively music makes you want to get up and dance, this book makes you really want to get up and paint the fullness of your life,” said leading Buddhist teacher, Jack Kornfield.

Cassou has been praised by the American mythologist Joseph Campbell and the French painter and sculptor Jean Dubuffet.

Michele Cassou at JFK University
Michele Cassou at JFK University

Needless to say, the introduction made me even more eager to hear what she had to say. She stood with a large projection screen above her and spoke passionately about her journey to and through what is known as “process painting.”

I took notes throughout her talk since just about every sentence resonated with me.

Cassou was born in Marseille, France. She started making art as a kid. She had formal art training but had given up studying art because her last art teacher said “Do something else, painting is not for you!” (from p. xxi of “Life, Paint and Passion). A series of events put her in touch with the Free Expression Studio in Paris. There she had a profound ah ha moment watching the uninhibited children make art. “Sheltered from judgment, criticism, and competition, the children were giving themselves to the natural process of expression, to the pulse of creation.” (p. xxiii of “Life, Paint and Passion). It was there she found her true calling.

She spent three years painting with the children and learned to listen and explore freedom of creative expression. From there she started teaching small groups in her home. Now, several decades and thousands of paintings later, she continues her unteaching.

Point Zero Painting is based on the Point Zero Method. The method involves a self-questioning method that leads to that place of no judgment or limits within. It emphasizes painting for the process or experience of painting and enjoying it’s meditative qualities. It’s not about the end product. It is not about what you “should do.” It’s about becoming conscious and present.

Another characteristic about Point Zero Painting is there is a completion point to each painting. Only the painter knows when it’s finished.

Here’s my 10 favorite quotes from Cassou’s talk:

1) “When we listen to intuition there’s a connection we don’t know we have. Learn to unblock the places resisting freedom. It’s like going down the river, you’ll follow the current and the stream.”

2) “To be creative is to be completely without habits.”

3) “Creativity is a present energy passing through you. Give yourself a lot of space to be yourself.”

4) “Painting is meditation. You are left with no point of reference. You don’t have to copy anybody’s way. No comparison with anything. It is a very courageous thing to do.”

5) “If you follow your intuition, there’s always a next step. It’s always SAFE.”

Intuitive Drawing by Mary Gow
Mary Gow's Intuitive Drawing Using "Harmonious" iPhone App
6) “The energy of the Universe is constantly wanting to pass through us!”

7) “Every time you create something there is a cycle . . . but you trust. We don’t paint what we are not ready to handle. There is a benevolent aspect of creation.”

8) “Whatever calls you, take it. Don’t feel like you have to cover the white paper. Every dot is precious.”

9) “It’s what has happened inside of you that is important. Not the product. Often it’s about changing our eyes. Your eyes change. You get more of a sense of what’s real. What is compromised.”

10) “Creativity works the same in every medium. It’s not the painting, it’s the process of creativity.”

You can find out more about Cassou’s work in her books among them: “Life Paint and Passion (co-authored with Stewart Cubley), “>Point Zero: Creativity Without Limits, Kid’s Play: Igniting Children’s Creativity, and Questions: To Awaken Your Creative Power to the Fullest. She also is holding Point Zero Painting workshops in Taos, Big Sur, and Cologne (Germany) between now and September 2012. For more information check Ms. Cassou’s website.

I left the talk feeling warm and validated and ready to unlearn.

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