Although I have incorporated reuse materials in my art in the past, it has been minimal. The emphasis has always been the finished product vs. the act of gathering materials. Now that I am well into the second week of curating curiosities, the conceptual phase has begun. The first part of the challenge of the Art in 5 Project is to collect interesting items that have been discarded. The second part is the development of a concept for future art. Questions that arise, what does reuse mean? What is the relationship (if any) we as humans have with everyday objects?
Ideas flow with conversation, the exchange becomes fertile ground for developing projects. This weekend I spent a productive evening with a recent (-ish) arrival to San Antonio. Ruth Wimberly was not born in Texas, but moved here as soon as possible with partner Charles Oisten and settled in a lovely cottage near Woodlawn Lake Park. Widely traveled and furiously in love with San Antonio, Ruth and Charles are avid collectors and supporters of local art (note to self: may have to return for a follow up, art collection is well worth sharing). Ruth shared a meal and her thoughts on reuse and what it means in her reality. She offered a slice of German nostalgia, that filled my belly and warmed my heart! To be clear, Ruth is an amazing culinary artist, with a diverse multi-cultural background, there is no limit to what she can achieve in the kitchen.
It was no surprise to find out, that after years in the corporate world, Ruth found an opportunity to leave the predictability of a desk job and follow her passion. Currently in the planning stages, she hopes to launch her Bexar Berbere Club in the very near future. The concept? A pop up with an Ethiopian flare, sambusas to delight the most discerning of palettes. Keep a look out for this project, it may “pop” up sooner than you think with interest from various local eateries such as Brick and Rathskeller.
What does reuse mean?
Before our meeting I asked Ruth to collect 5 items destined for the trash and she kindly obliged, with no guidelines or direction. A charger cord, paleta stick, ribbon, bottle, pin. Seemingly random tidbits forced together by creative purpose. Ruth provided a realistic example of what reuse means to her, in a word, sharing. Foreign concept? Not really, but how do we apply this in everyday life? It is most likely something we all already do. Ruth’s examples are common habits that take little effort to incorporate; the bag of clothes that no longer fit properly, the left overs you probably will not eat but are too good to waste, the re-purposed furniture you got from so-and-so, all the empty containers and more containers, these items are begging for a new life. The mission set forth upon their creation, to be USED and REUSED. To share with friends and family, make less waste, and appreciate the moments that bring us together through creative re-purpose.
What is the relationship we as humans have with everyday objects?
The value of a utilitarian object is it’s “use” and the “use” is only limited by the boundaries we create for it. As we discussed ways in which we have been able to share things that would otherwise be discarded, we came to the conclusion that there is an emotional energy we as humans assign to the objects. Perhaps we hold on to that favorite t-shirt a little longer, because xy&z happened the last time it was worn in 1999. But it literally has not been worn since 1999, it is no longer “in use” why do we hold on to it and make space for it again and again? We animate things with emotional energy and its effect may be negative or positive. The desire to tell a story about that old t-shirt is stronger than the practicality of its intended use. Rather than pass the t-shirt along and give it new meaning it remains in a dark corner of the closet, clinging to negative energy. When that same t-shirt finds it way to someone who will infuse it with new value it by wearing or re-purposing the material to make something new is positive energy. The objective of reuse is clear, new purpose for items not currently “in use.” The emotional energy we attach to the items may be holding us back from creative thinking.
The challenge is to find a way for memories continue to exist, to designate new value to the discarded object and visually share and pass on the meaning, beauty and nostalgia within.
Sambusa’s haunting your dreams? Follow Ruth’s project and support innovative cuisine in San Antonio: Bexar Berbere Club