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Art of Recycling on Display

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Nutrition Facts by Geri Forkner (Best of Show)
(Photo courtesy:  Athens Art Council)
Athens Arts Council Program Director Pat Armstrong shows
Blackbird (painting on home movie screen) by Shelbi Cox
(tied for Wesley L. Henderson, Jr. Memorial Creativity Award)

It’s entertaining, colorful and not necessarily easy to digest.  The tongue in cheek sculpture titled Nutrition Facts won Best of Show at the Athens Arts Council’s Art of Recycling Competition in Tennessee.  Professional artist Geri Forkner from Sweetwater created the winning piece from processed food packaging.  Forkner explained in her Artist’s Statement, “I am fascinated by the irony of food labels with their ‘nutrition facts’ labeled boldly. Many reveal that there is little nutrition in the container’s food.  What better way to serve up faux nutrition than in a faux serving bowl!”  The winning entry is one of two that Forkner brought to the contest, both emphasizing healthy eating.

The regional contest is one of many around the country that use recycled or repurposed objects.  The council says, “The goal of this juried art show is to heighten awareness of conservation issues through artistic expression.”  Experienced artists, students and creative amatuers all participated.

Pat Armstrong describes the entries as showing “so much creativity and imagination!”  We met the Program Director for Athens Arts Council while area residents were first delivering their works to The Arts Center.  They had yet to be organized for display.  The community later joined together for the reception and announcement of winners (listed below).  Each entry included an artist’s statement meant to show how the artwork related to the contest’s topic.  Materials were supposed to be at least 70% recycled or reused in some way.  Armstrong said this, more than other art contests, inspires participants who might not even consider themselves serious artists.  “Anybody might just happen to have an item pop into their head or they come across a piece of what might be trash to some people and it just inspires an idea and away they go.”

Michaela Desaultes, another high schooler from McMinn County, won the People’s Choice Award with Puzzled.  She painted atop drum skins.  A memorial award in the name of a teen who died in a fatal accident was a tie this year.  The Wesley L. Henderson, Jr. Memorial Creativity Award went, in part, to student Shelbi Knox for her Blackbird on a home movie screen.  The older artist to tie for this award is Julie K. Jack for Fumble, a complex multidimensional piece done on recycled furniture.Artist and interior designer Carolyn Kaufman judged entries in high school, college and open divisions.  She was impressed with how thoughtfully some of the youngest entrants treated their work.  Kaufman wrote in her Juror’s Statement, “I enjoyed reading what the high school students thought about the focus of this competition, often triggering past memories or states of being relevant to their existence.  Ironically, these young adults have grown up accustomed to the well-established recycling movement in communities as part of their present and future reality.  So, to pay homage to the past, whether the inspiration of a grandparent, or objects from familial homes, is remarkable.”

 The Arts Center is located at 320 North White Street in Athens, Tennessee.  Starting this Thursday, the Athens Arts Council offers an additional arts and crafts show as well as the exhibit.  Armstrong says this latest contest brings, “another level of awareness to the whole community.”

Regional artisans provide items for the gift shop The Arts Center in Athens, TN

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