With more and more focus on how people can reduce their negative global impact, artists too are influencing ideas about conservation and the reuse of materials. The Mary Lou Zeek Gallery represents several artists who work with these ideas as they provide their audiences with new ways of thinking about fine art. Such artists as Jackie Hoyt, Ben and Kate Gatski of Gatski Metals, and Tripp Gregson all represent this modern global drive toward supporting a more successful future. Whether or not an artist working with recycled materials sets a goal for environmental awareness, that artist pushes their audience’s mindset on what art means, and what art can do.
The tradition of recycling became common practice as early as 400 BCE. Over one-thousand years later, American pioneers began exploring new ways of reusing such materials and actively incorporated them into art practices. In the early nineteenth century, materials were being salvaged for creating decorative quilts, rag rugs, and various sculptural pieces. These influences then lead to such works as Fountain by Marcel Duchamp in 1917, and Bull’s Head by Pablo Picasso in 1943. The tradition continues to thrive and artists, like the ones represented through the Mary Lou Zeek Gallery, are making their marks locally and nationally to promote change and critical thinking.
One such artist, Jackie Hoyt, explores time, space, and narrative through her use of found and recycled materials in her mixed media assemblages. After graduating from Portland State University in 1984, with a degree in graphic design, she began creating window displays for a local business. This job, which she said she accidentally fell into, helped to direct her art into what it is today. "If you can imagine it, you can build it," she stated.
Working on a small budget with this job, Hoyt had to use her creativity to stretch the dollar and evolve something that may seem small into something amazing. During this time, she frequented thrift stores and garage sales. She began her own collection of various board games, dice, dominos and other materials, not knowing that they would later launch her art profession.
In 2000, Hoyt began her assemblages. The sheer volume of the materials may seem overwhelming to some, but when the process begins, it happens very naturally and without uncertainty for her. Some of her finalized pieces may take up to two years to complete due to the collection process, being that her materials are rather specific and based out of a certain time period. Hoyt’s work is one of a kind, with pieces never being able to be duplicated. She may create works that fall under a similar theme, but in each piece she deliberately uses different elements to provide her audience with a unique look into our culture’s past.
When talking about found object and recycled art, questions of environmental and conservational practices come up. Hoyt finds value out of materials that may be discarded and overlooked. They are materials that once had a significant impact on a person’s life, and are now seen, by some, as useless. She looks for pieces that may be missing wheels or certain parts. She finds objects that may be sold for hundreds of dollars in mint condition, but are now deemed as rubbish. She brings a new life into these items. She refreshes the viewer’s idea about what is important and what should be appreciated, and she always upholds ideas about salvaging and reusing.
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