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    Recology AIR Program Promotes Artists, Recycling, and Reuse

    The Recology San Francisco Artist in Residence (AIR) Program is an art and education initiative that awards Bay Area artists access to discarded materials, an unrestricted stipend, and an individual studio space. These resources, along with comprehensive support, are provided to artists while they create a body of work and host studio visits during their four-month residency.   

    Since 1990, over 150 professional artists and 50 student artists from local colleges and universities have completed residencies. Selected by an advisory board of art professionals, these emerging, mid-career, and established artists have worked across disciplines—including new media, video, painting, photography, performance, sculpture, and installation—while experimenting with material use and approach.  

    Artists explore a wide range of topics including current events, environmental and societal issues, personal histories, and identity. The work is powerful and sometimes humorous, it redefines spaces, and looks at materials and our society in a new light.   

    Terry Berlier, who sits on the AIR advisory board, interweaves movement and sound to investigate the evolution of human connections with queerness and ecologies. In other work, including a shopping cart filled with concrete made at Recology, she contemplates the heaviness of our consumer society. 

    Jamil Hellu, also on the AIR Advisory Board, has a visual practice that weaves together photographic imagery, video, and installation to amplify queer histories and challenge the social construct of masculinity.  

    While Ramekon O’Arwisters’s work acts as a metaphor for personal and societal rupture, it also serves as a strategy for repair. During his residency, he took great care to sand the sharp edges of broken ceramic shards, likening the process to other calming or healing acts such as meditation or hiking. 

    Kate Rhoades uses humor and the absurd to talk about complex issues. At Recology, she envisioned an origin story for the Junk Lady in the Jim Henson film Labyrinth, creating a life history, as well as a name, “Karen,” for the character. 

    Leilah Talukder utilizes textiles and sculpture to explore the role they play in shaping human interactions, desire, and cultural power dynamics. At Recology, she flipped wearable aspects of traditional American life, repurposing materials and forms to create protest wear for social justice activists. 

    The artist studios are located at the San Francisco Recycling and Transfer Center—a 47-acre facility that includes multiple recycling operations. Artists source materials for their artwork from the Public Reuse and Recycling Area, affectionately known as “the dump,” and paint from the Household Hazardous Waste Facility. At the conclusion of each residency, Recology hosts a public exhibition and artist talk that draws hundreds of guests to the studios. 

    Recology AIR encourages the conservation of natural resources by providing artists with time, space, and reusable resources to create a new and impactful body of work. The program further aims to create a more diverse and inclusive residency that amplifies perspectives from local Bay Area communities and inspires children and adults who engage with the program to re-imagine their role in creating a just and sustainable world.

    Published on April 21, 2022