Tag: sustainable arts

Latest Update from Wild Art

Our recent Wild Art program took place at Eucalyptus Elementary School in Hawthorne, CA during the fall semester of 2018. Our Artist Mentors worked with 200 4th graders over a six-week session – each teaching a total of 12 integrated art/ecology/sustainability lessons we developed especially for Eucalyptus Elementary students. We even brought in wildlife expert, Miguel Ordenana, from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles to teach the students about urban wildlife right in their own backyards and how to help protect their local environments. For their culminating project, students made a canvas out of recycled plastic bags and created a painting inspired by LA wildlife – connecting their lessons about conservation methods, ecology and creativity together in one piece. 

We are so excited to share the video below – featuring our artists at work in the classrooms and highlighting students busy making art!  As you can see, a single canvas is made from 20 recycled plastic bags, and this with this canvas-making process, we were able to divert 4000 plastic bags from local landfills, river and streets! 

The final step in for this program is to create a mural from the student’s individual canvas paintings. It will be a great way for the students to see their work displayed on campus and share our work with the larger school community. We are currently in the last stages of this and hope to install the mural on campus mid to late March 2019! 

Stay tuned – we’ll be posting lots of pics as the mural comes together. But for now, please enjoy this Wild Art video and feel free to share with your friends via our YouTube channel!


In our new Artist Mentor Spotlight feature, we’ll introduce you to one of our incredible teaching artists and give you an opportunity to get to know them a little better!

First up: Nino Alicea! 

In addition to his work with Ruckus Roots as a visual art and design mentor, Nino is a muralist, painter and sculptor living and working in the Los Angeles area.  With a background in graphic design and design production, Nino has been involved in production work for both television and film in the past. For several years, he worked as a Design Producer for NBC’s American Dream Builders, and in 2014, he was part of the team that installed Pae White’s “Woven Walk” at LAX. Most recently, Nino was named as art director of Ricky Martin’s current stage show!  

Nino has been essential in both our Wild Art project, a sculpture publicly installed at the Los Angeles Zoo during its Wild for the Planet event, April 23-May 22, 2016, and our latest, Chimes for Change! Check out his work with our students below, explaining the fundamentals of balance in design before they begin concept work for their chimes!

Nino says his “…ultimate goal is to inspire others to continue creating and dreaming big.” Nino’s dreams have definitely been big lately! His debut Burning Man art piece, called “Got Framed” (2016) was a huge hit on the playa last year, and was recently featured in National Geographic Travel February/March 2017 issue! In addition, we’re excited to announce that Nino is officially a Burning Man 2017 Honoraria Grant Recipient for his latest project, “Mucaro”!

Múcaro (MOO-ka-roe) or “owl” in Spanish, is both an homage to the artist’s mother, and a symbol of arts education/learning – not to mention a simply breathtaking 30ft installation! This massive owl structure will survey the playa at Burning Man with a 360 degree view by day, and emit beams of light by night. It also features spiral staircases that enables people to actually enter the structure, climb up to the lighthouse-like head, and take in the view! 

Obviously, this is a massive undertaking, and really elaborate project that Nino’s pursuing. It’s taken a lot of hard work, months of planning, and he’s almost there with the funds to achieve the last step of Mucaro! Nino and RuckusRoots are teaming up for a fundraising Gala in the coming months – the proceeds of which will be benefitting both our organization and the final stages of Nino’s piece! Stay tuned for event details coming soon – we’d love to see you there! 

Congratulations again, Nino! We appreciate all of the time, dedication and creative energy that you give to RuckusRoots! 

(P.S to learn more about the Mucaro, the project plans and the team helping to make it a reality, click here! )


Wild Art Summer Camps with RuckusRoots!


This summer we had a blast leading some wildlife and art-based workshops with local kids. Based on our middle school-aged program Wild Art, these workshops were geared towards younger kids and held in Northeast LA at Heartbeat House Dance Studio. We taught our participants about local wildlife, like the mountain lion, trout, falcon and monarch butterfly. Then the children got to decorate paper animal templates with fun recycled art supplies and paint. As always, it was a great way to get creative and start the learning process about nature and sustainability for these youngsters!





This week during TRASHformation: Fabric Mache

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Last week saw a lot of progress made in our TRASHformation program at Academia Avance middle school in Highland Park. Since the students had recently learned how to create a small 3D sculptural model, it was now time to think about how we will create the “skin” of our piece. Besides mentoring the students, Rebekah Waites and some very dedicated volunteers (thanks, Doug!) are simultaneously building the large structure. With the overabundance of fabric materials the community donated we thought it best to put those to good use. We introduced the students to a new art method known as “fabric mache”. “Fabric Mache” is in sense very similar to paper mache, it is the cross-stitching of strips of fabric that have been dipped in a solution of glue and water; once dry it becomes a stiff shell that can be painted and/or drilled.

In these upcoming weeks we will begin working towards designing and “stuffing” the interior of the sculpture, ensuring the strength and durability of the bear. We are still searching for a suitable home for this art piece at a Highland Park art gallery. Let us know if you have any leads!

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TRASHformation at Interbike for The ReCycle

Our TRASHformation for the ReCycle is complete!

 Now it’s time to share some pictures and back story about how this mini-TRASHformation came together.

Last month, RuckusRoots was asked to create a booth made completely from recycled materials for the launch of The ReCycle at the Interbike Expo, the world’s biggest bike trade show, held in Las Vegas, Sept 19-21, 2012. The ReCylce is the world’s first bike line with both frame and fork made from 100% recycled aluminum content. Every other component on the ReCycle bikes is either sourced from a local company, made in the USA, or made from renewable materials. In short, The ReCycle is the world’s most eco-conscious line of bikes. (Its first collection includes a fixed gear, a cruiser and a mountain bike, and besides being totally planet friendly, they also feature cutting edge bike-nerd details like a “train drive,” smooth shifting and a non existent seat tube! See more at www.riderecycle.com.)

Needless to say, we were excited to be asked to facilitate the launch of such a great product.. The thought of unveiling the world’s most sustainable bike line using our very own sustainable approach to art in one of the world’s LEAST sustainable cities provided just the type of delicious irony we feed on here at RuckusRoots. Behind enemy lines we would go! But first we had to figure out what to build.

Standard booth spaces at Interbike are 10′ X 10, and so we mapped out those dimensions at our building site. Next, we took inventory of what materials we already had, how they might efficiently fit into the small space, and what else we might need to procure. We knew we needed to display the bikes as prominently as possible while also conveying the themes of reycling and sustainability in a way that would make the booth stand out from all the rest! In our existing arsenal we counted refrigerator doors, already used several times for a different project, The Freedom of Speech Wall. We also had some old plywood, a few aluminum cans and some random scrap metal.

We decided to go with a tree sculpture as our central, eye-catching piece. We cut out and built a slightly abstracted tree shape from the plywood, with the help of a very skilled carpenter friend (thanks, Ken!). Meanwhile, we asked all of our friends to start saving their aluminum cans–the more the merrier! We were thrilled at the response: over 500 aluminum cans were donated to help us make this piece! Tin snips in hand, we cut out hundreds of leaf shapes, and scored the backs to make them look more realistic (thanks to Paper Botanicals and Erinn Bone for their help on this part). Next we painted the tree using old paint sitting in the basement and affixed the leaves with small screws.

With the tree done, it was time to think about the rest of the booth. How would we display the bikes and merchandise? How would we adorn the walls? We also needed a logo sign and a place to display brochures and business cards.

Naturally, it was time for a trash run. We visited several scrap metal sites and junk yards in south LA to pick up a few necessary items. We scored washing machine drums and a few old bike tires, an old wall clock and some very cool mid century stools that reminded me of oversized, whimsical toadstools. Along the way we were given a piece of old acrylic, mirrored plexiglass and clear plexiglass.

The stools ended up being the exact right height to hold up and display the bikes, so we painted them the same colors as the tree and called it a day. We reconfigured our existing refrigerator doors to fit the dimensions of the booth and used them as interactive siding. I pulled out some of the large, activism-themed magnetic words I had used for Freedom of Speech Wall (think refrigerator poetry gone big) to complete the look.

Next, we enlisted the help of our collaborator Robin Banks of Art Customs to CNC The ReCylce logo out of the acrylic. Backed with the mirrored plexiglass, the resulting sign was stunning! To make a small table, we stacked the washing machine tubs, painted them black and topped them with the clock surrounded by old bike tires. We painted the clock face and used the cut out acrylic leftovers from the logo sign to personalize the table top. Finished off with clear plexiglass cut into a circular shape, the table was both functional and stylish (picture at top). Finally, we lit the whole thing using RGB LED wall washers donated by one of our sponsors, Elemental LED–energy efficient LED lighting is the only way to go for a project like this!

Walking the pieces of our TRASHformation into the Sands Expo hall in Vegas, we certainly got a few head-turns. Every other booth at the expo was constructed using conventional, rented materials. Once our installation was up, however, confused stares turned into admiring and inquisitive smiles. Attendees were intrigued and impressed by the ingenuity of our display and couldn’t stop asking about how we made it. It was a great experience to expose thousands of unsuspecting bike enthusiasts to the beauty, fun and ingenuity of TRASHformation, and of sustainable art in general. A big thanks to Bryce Edmonds, co-founder of The ReCycle, for giving us this opportunity.

Check it all out in the gallery of pics below, and thanks to everyone who helped make this project possible!