New in The Re-Source

In this issue, you’ll learn how one person, YOU, can do a few simple things to reduce oil consumption, conserve natural resources and energy, and save precious landfill space for the next generation. The practice is good for all of us and your country.

We’ll introduce you to an Alabama craftsman who made something good out of what Hurricane Katrina left behind after the August, 2005 storm, and we’ll feature two car enthusiasts who have turned their vehicles into art on wheels.

The world’s largest landfill is in Rio de Janeiro, and we’ll tell you about Waste Land, an inspirational film that documents the lives of those who live nearby. Called catadores, these people make a living picking and selling whatever recyclables they can find at the facility.

The kids are home for the summer, so you probably have piles of school papers and other items with which to deal. We have a creative suggestion that will keep the materials out of the landfill and provide a welcome resource for teachers.

Finally, we’ll provide some Trashy Trivia that may surprise you. Perhaps you can use the facts to impress your friends at the office or dazzle your family in after dinner conversation.

What's In This Issue

Summer 2011

Repurposing Materials to Create Wild Wheels

When you think of the word art, an image of a painting or a sculpture probably pops into your mind. You might envision a building designed by a famous architect, classic furniture, or even wearable art. But have you ever considered using an automobile as a canvas for your creative expression?

An art car is a vehicle that's had its appearance changed as a personal expression of its owner. We're not referring to refurbishing a classic car or turning one into a hot rod. Art cars are very different from those types of vehicles. When you see an art car, you'll know it!

While some famous people, such as Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, created art cars, most cartists (emphasis on the second syllable) have no formal training. In fact, their work is much akin to what you may be familiar with as American Folk Art or even Outsider Art.

bubble truckMany cartists reuse materials, including the vehicles, to create their art. Armed with paint, silicone, and mounds of stuff most people would throw away, it's quite possible to turn a junker into a work of art. A good example of an art car is the one created by New Albany, Indiana's Sonny Fenwick.

Sonny's colorful and fun Bubble Truck has musical instruments mounted all over the body, and when Sonny turns the crank on the side of the vehicle, beautiful bubbles float skyward. Click here to visit The Bubble Truck site, and watch a bubble demo at

Costas Schuler
Costas Schuler is another art car enthusiast. Also known as The Pen Guy, he collects dead pens and uses them to cover his 1981 Mercedes Benz. A graphic designer by day, Schuler has collected more than 10,000 pens to use in decorating his art car, the Mercedes Pens.
Although Schuler has racked up more than 270,000 miles on his pen car, it’s still his main set of wheels. His goal is to collect a million pens to keep them from going to the landfill. Learn more about Costas Schuler and how you can send used pens to him at The Pen Guy

finpen carMaybe you’d like to try your hand at creating an art car! Art Cars in Cyberspace provides helpful instructions on how to make an art car, and there’s a special section just for children called art car kids. The Orange Show’s How To’s of Art Cars is a great section for classroom teachers who may want to try an art car lesson with their students. The site also features lots of wonderful photos of this fun and unusual art form.

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by Marilyn J. Brackney

Newsletter Archives

Giving Fallen Trees a Second Life

bowlIn August, 2005, when Hurricane Katrina destroyed parts of the Gulf Coast, homes were demolished, cities flooded, and thousands of trees, including ancient live oaks, were downed. Most of the old trees were cut into firewood, but Alabama craftsman Robin Rollins was determined to make something beautiful from the wood.

After the hurricane, one tree in Long Beach, Mississippi provided enough raw materials for Rollins to create twenty, hand carved bowls. The beautiful, swirling pattern, which runs throughout the grain, reminded the artist of a storm, so he calls the collection Storm Bowls.

Rollins enjoys harvesting wood that would otherwise go to rot and waste. See his Storm Bowls and many more of his handmade works online at Jennifer Harwell’s Gallery in Alabama.

Leftovers: Trashy Trivia

It takes 95% less energy to recycle aluminum than it does to make it from raw materials. Making recycled steel saves 60%, recycled newspaper 40%, recycled plastics 70%, and recycled glass 40%. These savings far outweigh the energy created as by-products of incineration and landfilling.


School's Out, School's Out! What to Do with All Those Papers?

Most schools in the United States have dismissed for summer vacation, so kids are probably bringing home lots of papers and artwork. Of course, you can’t save everything every year, so here are some suggestions for what you can do with it.

First of all, recycle paper such as that used for spelling and math. Artwork, which has been heavily colored, painted, or had items glued to it, will not be recyclable. However, your child’s art teacher, camp counselor, or Sunday school teacher may be delighted to have the work to keep on file and use as examples.

When introducing creative activities, classroom and art teachers always need good examples to show students, and it’s better to show them children’s work for the motivation instead of something an adult has created.Emma's Turkey

Art Meets Trash in the Movie Waste Land

trash mountainThe statue of Christ the Redeemer, which is located at the top of Corcovado Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, is one of the world's most famous monuments. Facing the city with outstretched arms, the beautiful statue gives little clue as to what’s taking place behind it on Guanabara Bay. That's where the metropolitan landfill of Jardim Gramacho was built. Receiving more trash than any landfill in the world, 70% of the refuse produced by Rio de Janeiro arrives daily. This equals 7,000 tons of garbage!

Although Jardim Gramacho was established more than forty years ago as a sanitary waste facility, it soon became home to scavengers who relied on collecting and selling recyclable materials in order to make a living. Called catadores, these people established a squatter community surrounding the landfill, and it's now home to over 13,000 people. They rely entirely on an economy based on recycling. About 3,000 catadores work on the landfill, and 200 tons of recyclable materials are removed each day. In doing so, the garbage pickers have extended the life of Jardim Gramacho, and the landfill has one of the highest recycling rates in the world.

Vik Muniz is a Brazilian-born photographer who has made his home in New York City since the 1980s. The artist uses unlikely materials such as dirt, diamonds, string, sugar, and garbage to create his work, and he draws his subject matter from photojournalism and art history books. With close ties to his native Brazil, Muniz set out in 2008 to document the lives of the catadores in a film called Waste Land. He photographed the people and collaborated with them to make portraits created from trash. When completed, he photographed their work. His goal was to inspire and motivate the catadores to re-imagine their lives and to better themselves.

work in progresposterThe results of his efforts are stunning, with one of the "catadore turned artist" having his work on the auction block in London and receiving $50,000 for his portrait. Many others were sold, too. Finally, Muniz exhibited a solo show of photos of the catadores' works at the Museu de Arte Moderna in Rio de Janeiro. Second only to a Picasso exhibit, the Pictures of Garbage Series broke all attendance records.

The film received an Oscar nomination in 2008, and it won the Audience Award at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. A San Francisco Chronicle reviewer wrote, "Waste Land is a film about recycling, but it's far more intriguing than the average eco-documentary. The subjects are Brazilian garbage pickers, called catadores, and how an artist created striking portraits of a half dozen of them and transformed their lives."

Visit the Waste Land site at, and if you have the opportunity to see the film on the big screen, don't miss it!