Art Department, Recycling Center Offer Animals in Your Trash Exhibition

Posted on 10/30/2008 2:19:33 PM
Bird by Chelsea Nelson

Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s department of art is partnering with the Indiana County Recycling Center for “Animals in Your Trash,” an exhibition of art made from recycled plastics.

The exhibition is on display at the Indiana County Solid Waste Authority’s recycling center at 1715 Route 119 South, Homer City, through Nov. 21. The center is open to the community from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. There is no admission charge for the exhibition.

The project is directed by Steve Loar, a faculty member in IUP’s art department and director of IUP’s Center for Turning and Furniture Design. The artwork on display was created by 21 students who completed Loar’s three-dimensional design course in 2007.

The class emphasized creative problem solving with skills in cutting and building methods. Loar asked the students to translate the idea of bird or dinosaur by using primarily postconsumer waste plastic, most coming from detergent bottles.

Dinosaur by Andrew Koutsavlis

The items were created with simple tools like scissors, hole punches, pinking shears, pop rivets, wire and screws, nuts and washers.

Loar’s work with David Edgar, a visiting artist at IUP in November 2007, was the impetus for the “Animals in Your Trash” exhibition. Edgar is known for his creation of artwork from recycled materials in the form of fish and other animals.

“As a teacher of three-dimensional design, I have been experimenting for years with student assignments that used recycled materials, but without great personal satisfaction. When I stumbled upon the new work of David Edgar, whom I had previously met in 1999, I had a true ‘a-ha’ moment,” Loar said. “It seemed that all the hopes of my previous attempts were embodied in his one plastic fish.

“The (2007) IUP common freshman reader, ‘Field Notes from a Catastrophe,’ added fuel to my longtime interest in physically heightening my students’ awareness of our planet’s limited resources, our country’s nonchalant view of waste and the creative individual’s potential role in initiating action.”

Loar’s students began work with the recycled materials by making a fish brooch, followed by the creation of a fish using Edgar’s basic procedure. Students in Loar’s fall 2007 class were asked to create birds, and the spring 2008 class was asked to create dinosaurs.

Dinosaur by Diego Byrnes

“The assignments were not about making a model of a real dinosaur or making a true likeness of a bird, but rather to attract the viewer, activate their imagination and have them understand the idea without being told,” Loar said.

For information about tours of the recycling center, contact Vikki Saltsman at (724) 479-0444 or via e-mail at For information about the exhibition, contact Loar at (724) 465-0758 or via e-mail at