By Giselle Betbeder
The saying, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” was proved true by a group of artists this month, when they used trash collected around the City of Falls Church to do something extraordinary.
The morning of April 13, a group of eco-conscious artists met at the Falls Church Community Center to make a piece of “eco art.” Ecological art, or “eco art,” is a form of environmentally friendly art, created by artists who are concerned about issues such as sustainability and conservation.
The artists joined the City of Falls Church’s annual spring clean-up that morning to collect discarded items off of the streets. Afterwards, they gathered on the Community Center lawn to get to work. Spread across the grass were items like soda cans, scraps of wood, and water bottles (the most commonly used item for eco art, the artists said).
One of the artists, Teddy Wiant, constructed a tree made from scrap wood he had brought, which was then decorated with pots with flowers planted in them, a scooter, and caution tape. To top off the sculpture, balloons were donated by Falls Church’s American Association of University Women from the book sale they were hosting that weekend at the Community Center.
A piece of plastic on the sculpture reads: “This piece of Eco Art was created on 4/13/13 with the trash found during the City cleanup by spontaneous Eco Artists John Maier, Isabelle Babington, Teddy Wiant, Llori Stein, Olivier Giron, Gregory Bryant, Bill Nell, Jacqlyn Sickler.”
The original piece, which has been on display at the Community Center since its creation, was sketched by Giron.
Giron was the juror for Falls Church Arts’ Eco Art show last month. This show was a collection of pieces by artists demonstrating the four Rs through art: recycle, reuse, repair, and reduce. Their work showed several different ways that trash could be transformed into something more useful. Giron gave a presentation on the eco art movement during a reception to celebrate the show’s opening at ArtSpace Falls Church.
Giron has always been interested in ways to maintain the environment while also pursuing art. After studying environmental science as an undergraduate and going back to school for photography, Giron created an organization that combined his two passions.
“I used to go to illegal trash sites and from there, realized what I can do with this trash,” Giron said.
“We use trash because you think you’re throwing something away, but trash stays,” Nell said. Nell and the other artists seemed comfortable with the taboo idea of scavenging through junk to make something beautiful in the end.
“What’s amazing is what you find in the trash,” Babington said. Babington didn’t see it is garbage, she saw it as art in the making.