Most people who come across an abandoned car or discarded washing machine see a piece of junk. Matt Myers sees opportunity.
"There's an old car parked behind the shop here," Myers said at his studio, Black Toad Forge, which is just west of Macomb.
"I don't see that like most people, who see an old car. I see it as a pile of metal that I can cut apart and turn into anything I want."
Myers was originally a painter, but found himself drawn more and more to sculpting. He studied blacksmithing and metalsmithing at Western Illinois University after coming to Macomb a decade ago, and he applies those techniques to his sculptures.
"The way that I work is really no different than a blacksmith who was making swords for the Roman army," Myers said. "I have some power tools that he didn't have. But the techniques and the majority of the tools are the same."
In addition to sculptures, Myers makes jewelry, bowls, ladles, and much more. He tries to use recycled and re-purposed materials as much as possible.
"Blacksmiths are the original recyclers. You always use everything you can. When the scraps get small enough that you can't use them anymore, you can melt them down and make more. You can use everything," Myers said.
Myers also has set up beehives in his backyard. He separates the wax from the honey, then melts the wax with linseed oil and other ingredients to create a finish for the metal.
Myers is one of more than a dozen artists who will be featured in the new exhibit "Reduced, Re-mused, Recycled" at the West Central Illinois Arts Center on the east side of Macomb's courthouse square. All the artists use recycled and re-purposed materials in their work.
The exhibit opens Wednesday, April 6 in conjunction with the closing reception for Western Illinois University's 8th Annual Environmental Summit. The reception takes place at the arts center from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. It's free and open to the public. The event will include live music and a show of sustainable fashions.
The art exhibit will remain on display at the WCIAC through May 14.