Tuesday, August 27th, 2013
If you pass through San Francisco Airport at any time before October 27, 2013 allow yourself some time to appreciate the artwork that has been placed on display in Terminal 3, Boarding Area F by the SFO Museum. The exhibit, which is called The Art of Recology: The Artist in Residence Program 1990-2013, contains more than 100 pieces from 45 artists and offers a wide variety of artistic styles and media. The pieces all have one unusual thing in common: garbage.
Not that the art is garbage. On the contrary, the pieces on display are striking. They literally stop traffic in an airport filled with people in a hurry. Each work of art in the exhibit is made with materials reclaimed from the City of San Francisco’s waste stream. Recology, formerly called Sanitary Fill Company, is the city’s waste and recycling hauler.
Many of the artworks in the exhibit make use of various plastic items taken from the waste stream. Jeremy Carroll’s article in Plastics News about the exhibit focuses on one of the artworks that is catching the interest of many passers-by — a life-sized sculpture of a Hummer made of polystyrene (PS) foam plucked from Recology’s waste stream by the artist Andrew Junge.
The piece is called “Styrofoam Hummer H1 (low mileage, always garaged).” “Styrofoam” is Dow Chemical’s trademark for the insulating foam it produces. The polystyrene foam used to protect everything from small appliances to large pieces of furniture is expanded polystyrene (EPS) or PS foam, a detail the general public continues to ignore.
The Artist in Residence Program at the Recology waste handling facility has been going since 1990. Artists chosen for the program have 24-hour access to studio space and are able to scavenge in the Public Disposal and Recycling Area of the Recology facility, or “The Big Store” as many of them call it. The artist spends four months collecting, cleaning and creating a body of work that goes into a two-day exhibition attended by people from the community and the company.
Unusual is in San Francisco’s DNA. For instance, you might think the SFO Museum mentioned above is simply a catchy title. In fact, it is an actual museum, accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, and the only accredited museum in an American airport. It maintains 20 galleries throughout the airport and a rotating schedule of art, history, science, and cultural exhibitions.