Trash to treasure

The world sends us garbage. We send back music.

That’s the tagline for LandfillHarmonic, which is both an ongoing urban experiment in recycling, and an indie-movie project currently seeking crowd-sourced funding via Kickstarter (as of this writing they’ve received pledges of over $100,000, towards their goal of $175,000).

But it could also be the rallying cry for the entire Upcycle movement, which creates art from refuse. Upcycling is all about seeing beauty where others see disposability. It brings to mind the simple, awe-inspring quote from Michelangelo Buonarroti: “I saw the angel in the marble, and I carved until I set him free.”

LandfillHarmonic, or The Recycled Orchestra, is comprised of children from the barrios of Paraguay. All of their instruments, from tubas to timpani, are created entirely from garbage. This is by necessity, not affectation. In their world, a handcrafted violin is as valuable as a house. Through ingenuity and resourcefulness, they’ve built an upcycled chamber orchestra, performing Beethoven and the Beatles, while showing us all that the things we throw away aren’t always without value:

All honor and thanks, then, to the entire upcycle movement. These artists aren’t just lightening the loads on our terrifyingly overburdened landfills…they’re also beautifying our world and culture.

And I’d be remiss here if I didn’t send a special shout-out to the gorgeous upcycling that goes on in my own home. My lovely bride, the artist and upcycling entrepreneur Jennifer L. Worden, creates art and jewelry from discarded glass, wood, construction materials, even discontinued wallpaper samples. She’s an active volunteer¬†with our local Urban Upcycle group, which rescues craft-worthy material from the waste stream, and makes it available, free of charge, to artists and artisans.

We’ve made this entreaty before: Buy Art. Support your local artists, with your patronage and your dollars. We’ll stand by that, without qualification. But we’ll also add this: If you want to immerse yourself in culture, while simultaneously doing your small bit to save the world, then buy upcycled art.

Or even better, engage in a little upcycling of your own.

About editor, facilitator, decider

Doesn't know much about culture, but knows when it's going to hell in a handbasket.
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