Recycling has become an integral part of our daily lives. The need and duty to recycle waste, water, energy, and resources encourages us to get creative in order to successfully cope with these great challenges.
However, in my family recycling has always been a part of our tradition. It began with my grandfather, Haim Sarig, who would collect used nails and screws and straighten them for future use. It continued with my Grandmother Miriam, who in the depression era of the 1950’s would make dolls and toys out of old clothes. My Aunt Rena could fix anything and would bring home junk and old furniture to completely rejuvenate them (a custom I adopted from a very young age).
I always enjoyed creating and recycling, taking unwanted objects and with my imagination and a little work transform them into something new and practical, beautiful and enjoyable. During my years as a children’s book illustrator, my recycling craze was more of a hobby. However, from the moment I was introduced to paper-mâché and puppetry, my art and my recycling craze finally overlapped, and the fountain of ideas and creativity hasn’t stopped flowing ever since.
Nowadays, most of my “raw” materials are recycled – office paper, cardboard, plastic bags and containers. Nearly all of the textiles that I use in my work are used clothes from friends and family or from second-hand shops, and off-cuts from seamstresses and fabric factories. For over a year, I published a column in the magazine “Derekh HaOsher” (Road to Happiness) full of recycling ideas. I hope to continue doing so on this website, and share ideas for recycling in art and in general.
Fortunately, in recent years many museums and local galleries have been promoting recycled art, and artists now see ecology and sustainability as top priorities. For example, at the Youth Wing at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem you will find the wonderful Thelma Shultz, assistant curator in the Recycled Art department. At the Khiriya waste processing center, you will find a hands-on learning center for recycling and a gallery that exhibits recycled art. In Hoff HaCarmel, you will encounter the artists Dalia Boneh and her daughter, who create recycled art. I am fortunate to have many friends who create recycled paper-mache and textile arts and crafts, and many young designers today are devoted to “green” products, and the consumers are more environmentally aware in their choices.
I hope that my list of recycled art heroes will continue to grow over time. You are welcome to use the contact form on the website to send me your ideas or links to other interesting artists that could inspire us all.
Featured photo: Poufs (low seating cushions), 100% recycled, handmade from recycled materials; hundreds of plastic bags compressed together to form a pebble shape, covered with reused textile sewn and embroidered by my hand. Not only are they adorable, but they’re durable and comfortable too!