My 10 Favorite Recycled Art Pieces from the First Annual RARE Expo [PHOTOS]

Hi folks…I normally write for, and occasionally for Ecolocalizer and CleanTechnica. However, following my three day coverage of the first annual Recycling Arts and Resource Expo, this past Earth Day weekend in Bellingham, Washington, Becky Striepe has flattered me with an invite to post here.

Becky suggested that I share my ‘top ten’ favorite recycled art pieces — a very difficult thing to do, given so many great works — so I thought I’d give it a go, but skip the rankings. So! In no particular order, I give you my 10 favorite recycled/repurposed artworks from the RARE Expo (with descriptions following each photo):

Steer head by Graham Shodda

1.  ‘Steer Head’ by Graham Shodda (Spark Museum) – sculpture made of reclaimed chrome parts from miscellaneous appliances – I find Graham’s work playful, clever, and exceptionally well designed.


Egg / Universe by Thor Myhre

2.  ‘Egg/Universe’ by Thor Myhre  (Spark Museum) – sculpture made from salvaged and soldered marine equipment. Thor’s well-crafted sculptures are deeply mythological and primal. This one kinda creeps me out, in a good way.


Reclaimed Lampshade by Leslie Smith

3. Lampshade by Leslie Smith (Spark Museum) – reclaimed lampshade with “imprinted (found) photo on translucent material.” So elegant and evocative of a different era.


Toaster Oven by Eric Brown

4. ‘Toaster Oven’ by Eric Brown – repurposed/reclaimed rotisserie oven and a functioning toaster – Eric’s stuff–part of his Museum of Toaster Art exhibit, MOTA–is whimsical, funny (delightfully redundant!), and fabulous…if a bit obsessed!

RePrincess by Erin Libby

5. ‘RePrincess’ by Erin Libby (Allied Arts Glalery) – found table leg, recycled packing foam, and miscellaneous materials – a wonderfully captivating  ‘figurative’ sculpture.


Sleepwalker by Ken Wiener

6. ‘Sleepwalker’ by Ken Wierner (Allied Arts Gallery) – sculpture from  salvaged iron scrap – simple, elegant and exacting use of found forms. Love it!


Handmade Bird Nest by Cindi Williamson

7. ‘Handmade Bird Nest’ by Cindi Williamson (Allied Arts Gallery) – sculpture made from branches, torn printed paper, metal pen holder, shaving brush, and found wood bird. Just exquisite.


Ticking Time Bomb by Gail A. Dupar

8. ‘Ticking Time Bomb’ by Gail A. Dupar (Allied Arts Gallery) – sculpture made from found clock face/frame, old wood spool, rubber tubing, computer circuit board, wire pieces and paper mache. Beautiful and disturbing.


Under Tow by William Edwards

9. ‘Under Tow’ by William Edwards – sculpture made from found electric lamp, plumbing pipes, recycled press wood, cotton and random bits of metal. I love the scene he depicts: a squid-like creature guarding sunken pirate “booty.” Wonderful!

'Shell Game' by Anita K. Boyle

10. ‘Shell Game by Anita K. Boyle – art box collage made from dried mushrooms, snake skin, egg carton, bullet shells, sunflower seeds and homemade paper – the rich layering and detailing in Anita’s art boxes is superb and completely absorbing…


World is my toaster by Eric Brown

(And just one more ’cause I can…)

11. ‘The World is My Toaster’ by Eric Brown (Spark Museum) – reclaimed toaster with affixed map of the world. Yes, I’ll admit a certain new-found love of all things toaster-ish, thanks to my acquaintance with Eric. You’ve gotta love his playful way of keeping his obsession varied, yet unwavering while making a cheeky point about climate change!

And there you have it, my friends…whether it’s called recycled or repurposed (or upcycled or reclaimed) art, I hope my list has at least tickled your found-object fancy, or maybe even inspired you to explore the recycle artist within you. Perhaps we’ll see your original recycled art pieces in next year’s RARE Expo? See you then!

Top photo: sculpture by Thor Myhre (publicity photo for Allied Arts press release)

Written by Michael Ricciardi

Michael Ricciardi is a well-published writer of science/nature/technology articles as well as essays, poetry and short fiction. Michael has interviewed dozen of scientists from many scientific fields, including Brain Greene, Paul Steinhardt, Arthur Shapiro, and Nobel Laureate Ilya Progogine (deceased).
Michael was trained as a naturalist and taught ecology and natural science on Cape Cod, Mass. from 1986-1991. His first arts grant was for production of the environmental (video) documentary 'The Jones River - A Natural History', 1987-88 (Kingston, Mass.).
Michael is an award winning, internationally screened video artist. Two of his more recent short videos; 'A Time of Water Bountiful' and 'My Name is HAM' (an "imagined memoir" about the first chimp in space), and several other short videos, can be viewed on his website ( He is also the author of the (Kindle) ebook: Artful Survival ~ Creative Options for Chaotic Times


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