The supercool website One Green Planet recently asked me, founder of RuckusRoots, to write an article about how we can use art to fight for the planet. I was pleased to contribute my views on ARTivism, as well as mention some of my favorite artists who expertly blend the worlds of art and eco-activism.
If you were wondering what RuckusRoots was up to this April, look no further than CryoChrome, one of the must sought after art installations on display during this years Coachella Valley Music Festival in Indio, CA.
We spent 18 days in the desert to help make CryoChrome come to life. The piece was the brain child of LA artist and RuckusRoots collaborator James Peterson. This was Peterson’s first commissioned art piece for Coachella, and we are proud to say it was a success!
The interactive sculpture was roughly 40 feet long and 20 feet tall, and was based on Russian ice caves. Affectionately dubbed ‘the rainbow tunnel,’ the outside of the piece was covered in a skin of over 20,000 recycled CD’s (yay for recycled materials!) while the inside of the tunnel was vaccu-formed plastic walls covered in color-changing LED lighting. As you walked through the piece, the walls rotated around you, creating an optical illusion that left festival goers dizzy and exhilarated. Lines remained long throughout both weekends of the festival; we estimated at least 70,000 viewers experienced the sculpture each weekend.
It’s been an exciting week for our TRASHformation program at Nightingale Middle School. Along with collaborating artist Robin Banks, the RuckusRoots team erected the body, or “skeleton” of our Nighthawk sculpture. We visited the lab on Wednesday to assess the trash with Robin and Jennifer Cunnigham, the D3 Lab coordinator, and made a rough sketch of how we would construct the bird and just how big it would be. Since the kids worked so hard and collected so much valuable and usable materials, everyone agreed the bigger the better!
We used recycled steel bike rims to form the torso and found scrap metal to make the outline of the wings, legs and feet. We welded it all together while adding structural stability, ensuring the sculpture is safe to display on campus.
We then delivered the frame to the D3 Lab in three pieces, setting it up so that we can begin adding to it with Nightingale students over the next few weeks.
Thanks to the Academia Avance High School senior interns who worked with Robin to weld together our Nighthawk and also transport it to the lab. We always appreciate a helping hand.
The kids were quite excited to see part of the structure come together today! We looking forward to next week when more hands will be needed and the kids’ creative ideas will finally come to life. Stay tuned!
The fact of the matter is, we all love to have a good time, and we (mostly) all hope to do some good in the world while we’re here.
On June 16th, RuckusRoots succeeded in throwing an event that achieved both of those things, a party with a purpose, if you will. TRASHion Show, a fundraiser and fashion show featured clothing made from creatively recycled materials, took place at Wild Honey Studios in downtown Los Angeles benefitting RuckusRoots’ award-winning program, TRASHformation.
With over 10 designers showing around 50 looks, the runway was filled with pieces that were not only beautiful, but also inspired onlookers to think about how trash can be turned into treasure. I was amazed by the creativity of the designs featured in the show. For example, the top image is of an outfit created from leather that was taken from a couch found in a dumpster. The second image is of a dress made from trash found on the beach. The third is a piece made out of old CD inserts and recycled paper and the fourth dress was created out of an old WWII parachute!
My inspiration for throwing this event was not only to raise money for RuckusRoots’ programs, but also to remind people that what we throw away is only garbage if we think it is. I believe that this kind of mental shift is required if we’re going to begin to live sustainably as a society—I want to initiate a paradigm shift in how we think about and use our dwindling resources.
Kate Havens is a PhD candidate at USC, studying biokinesiology, or human movement. But when she’s not studying or teaching, you can find her crafting. Kate has always been interested in design and has created dozens of sewn, knitted, and crocheted items for family and friends. Blissfully married to Robin, she is an Art Customs supporter, baker and co-conspirator.
Robin Banks is an artist, inventor, product developer and founder of the arts collective AntFarm LA, and of Art Customs, a machining, fabrication and art house that provides collaborative production and concept development on projects large and small. Dream it, plan it, do it is Robin’s motto, and he does just that, while encouraging and inspiring others to do the same. Robin’s work as been featured in music videos, commercials and TV shows, as well as in music festivals like Coachella, Electric Daisy Carnival and Lighting in a Bottle.
For instance, Robin made these custom SteamPunk Goggles, Eyeball Lathe, and Mouth Animator for the David Guetta and Niki Minaj Video “Turn Me On”, in 2011. Construction time was only 3 days.
Robin made this Working push-pull train car for Gardnier Fructus hair products commercial. This 200-pound, CNC-cut aluminum prop only took 4 days to complete. To see more of Robin’s portfolio and custom costume work, visit www.artcustoms.com.
We couldn’t be more happy to have artist Susan Spehar on board for our upcoming TRASHion Show. Susan is one of the co-founders of Paper Botanicals, which creates custom, couture hand-made paper sculptures for events and personal home decorating.
Susan, who has been practicing art since her teenage years, specializes in large scale acrylic portraiture, pencil drawing and mixed media installations. Her work is featured in fellow designer Erinn Valencich’s Beverly Hills showroom Erinn V Maisons, and has been auctioned off at previous RuckusRoots fundraisers to support the cause. This is Susan’s first time creating wearable art through Paper Botanicals, but she is “excited and looking forward to the challenge of creating an outfit to highlight the importance of recycled materials and sustainable living.”
When they moved out, Susan’s children left behind a large collection of CD cases and their inserts. Instead of throwing them away, she decided to honor the importance music has played in her family by repurposing them into handmade paper fabric. The white flowers on the dress are also made from recycled paper and are leftover from Susan’s daughter Stephanie’s wedding.
Inventive Psycho Girlfriend designs–constructed from unexpected materials like circuit boards and plastic sporks– will grace the RuckusRoots’ TRASHion runway!
Psycho Girlfriend is a wearable art collaboration effort by Vanessa Bonet and Kasey McMahon. The whimsical, highly detailed work is based on abstractions of fashion and sculpture on the human form. Both women are artists and fabricators with combined skills in welding, blacksmithing, foam and clay sculpture, casting, leathercraft and sewing. Together they create one-of-a-kind, sculptural creations that explore design by blending traditional and unconventional materials.
Based in Los Angeles and founded in 2004, their work has been shown in various galleries and has been widely featured in both online and print publications including Wired News, Elle Décor Italy, Los Angeles City Beat and boingboing.net.
Vanessa describes herself as a sculptor, who has a love for 3-dimensional art. The drive behind her art is her desire to make fun of all aspects of life, from the unimportant to the most serious, as well as the desire to make art that exposes people to the unfamiliar and pulls them out of their comfort zone.
Bonet began making wearable art in 2003. It all began with a hat. The mouse head hat (now paired with the spork dress) was her first piece, and after making it she realized that wearing one’s art is an amazing way to interact with people. The expressive nature and versatility of wearable art as a medium has continued to inspire her. In addition to dresses, she also makes giant puppets, and is in the process of creating a collection of giant toy puppets, inspired by old, vintage toys that she has acquired. Her favorite word is “noodle,” she likes cheese, and has a strange fascination with dolls.
Kasey McMahon is a multimedia artist based in Los Angeles, California. Her work is driven by her own curiosity regarding our distinctly individual interactions with technology, the world and each other. She is fascinated by the elegant complexity that exists within and between the natural and technological realms: both intricate and untamed in their own ways. Influenced as much by hardware stores and the monsters underneath her bed as by haute couture and fine art, Kasey believes imagination is a superpower we all possess and encourages the occasional sidestepping of grownup life to recall a child’s eager fascination with the mundane.
The effect of Kasey’s work is humorous and frequently disarming, highlighting the chasms we often create between ourselves, our environments and our machines. Drawing attention to the reverberations created by manipulation of either nature or technology, her work often fuses the two together and imbues the resulting creations with a lighthearted otherworldliness.
Photos courtesy of Marianne Williams, Kevin Rolly and Daniel Bergeron
Getting closer to our event, here we highlight yet another amazing designer featured in our show: Taryn Hipwell of EcoDivas TV
Taryn Hipwell is the founder and creator of EcoDivas TV. The goal of EcoDivas TV is to create awareness and build communities that focus on Eco film, fashion, cosmetics and food by sharing information from different cities around the world. EcoDivas is all about highlighting the silly, sassy, sexy side of being green. Today, Taryn has taken on a new role – she is an enthusiastic, ethical, sharp writer, producer and host committed to creating super fun fashionable reality TV shows that encourage socially responsible and sustainability.
Taryn is from Pittsburgh. She studied Fashion Design and Art Therapy at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and screenwriting through the UCLA Extension Program. She worked for designer Anna Sui in New York and styled films and celebrities, while assisting director David Zucker in Los Angeles. Her unique repurposed Kimono Quilt can be seen on HGTV’s the Antonio Treatment and her recycled fashion, Alexander McQueen, tissue paper replica dress was recently featured in PAPER Magazine.
Taryn teaches “Eco Fashion” specialty classes such as “Sustainability and the Fashion Industry” at FIDM as well as “Recycled Fashion” at Environmental Charter High School and Youth Environmental Network Zambia in Africa. She has decided to connect the two cultures and created R’ashion Camp Zambia – an Eco Fashion exchange camp that teaches youth from the US and Africa how to turn waste into fashion whilst taking care of our beautiful planet.
Taryn recently directed, produced and repurposed dresses for the first fully greened music video “Uber Super Feeling!” filmed in Zambia, Africa and Los Angeles, California for Zambian pop star Kachanana. And she would like to give a shout out to YEN Zambia members, B2K dancers, ECHS students and the Zulu Maniacs for all their hard work.
Taryn is a 2012 Los Angeles Business Journal – Women Making a Difference Award Nominee.
Taryn says, “Our passion has always been to showcase fascinating and creative women doing amazing things in the green scene. I foresee many changes happening in the fashion, film, cosmetics and food industries this year. And I hope, with your help, that we can create a positive shift in all industries. I want Eco to be fun, flirty and fabulous.”
Another designer we love: Here we highlight Marina DeBris, the mastermind behind Washed Up.
Marina DebRis was so frustrated with finding piles of trash on our beaches, that she felt she had to do something with it, and that’s just what she did. After 13 years of collecting trash found on California’s coasts, she has put the collection to use. About 3 years ago, Marina started making pieces of art from the found objects of trash she’s collected over the years and calls the collection Washed Up. DeBris says she uses “creativity, a little humor and irony to show that the waste we create, keeps on coming back to haunt us.”
Her designs include pieces made from the trash collected, as well as trash couture, fashion assembled from the found beach garbage. Marinas art “encourages the viewer to question the use of single use items and consider ways to reduce waste so it does not end up in our oceans and our landfills.”
Another commendable action on behalf of Marina was when she appeared in front of a DWP Environmental hearing questioning their use of single use coffee cups and plastic bottles.
DeBris studied at Indiana University and the Rhode Island School of Design. She’s lived all over the world including New York City, London, and Sydney. DeBris is originally from Detroit, MI and currently lives in Los Angeles.
Marina’s work has been featured on KTLA and she currently has a kickstarter project you can help with by clicking here.
I bring you the first in a series highlighting the remarkable designers we have on board for our upcoming TRASHion Show: Victor Wilde of Bohemian Society
The first in line is LA’s very own Victor Wilde. Wilde is the founder of Bohemian Society, a line of men and women’s high art garments and accessories that was started in 2003 and is based in downtown Los Angeles. Wilde’s clothing consists of mostly eco-friendly materials that are found, reused, recycled, or admittedly, straight from the garbage. Bohemian Society has been featured in LA’s Fashion Week, Blender Magazine, The Tyra Show and many more noted publications. Stars like Steven Tyler, Tommy Lee, Melissa Ethridge, Avril Lavigne and members of System of a Down have also been spotted wearing his clothes.
Wilde takes a lot of his inspiration from Brooklyn, where he was raised. He headed West in 2001 after “a crushing defeat at the hands of Michael Bloomberg in the 2001 New York City mayoral race” in search of something better, and landed in LA. Wilde is also a co-founding member of Brooklyn’s performance art group “The Mercury Men.” Wilde admits he “explores various mediums of creation and destruction, which include but are not limited to filmmaking, politics, writing,painting, sculpture and many aspects of concept and design.”
We’re more than thrilled to have such an esteemed and influential designer on board and can’t wait to see what Wilde has in store for The TRASHion Show. See y’all there on June 16th!
Details and ticketing info for the TRASHion Show will be posted soon.