From the Dumpster to the Gallery

Western Illinois – Some artists in western Illinois are taking stuff that's headed for the landfill and turning it into works of beauty.

The artists include Jason Ackman and Amber Bledsoe, who are members of the Local Connection Artists' Co-op in Rushville.

Another such artist is Kelley Quinn of Macomb.

Ackman likes to use wood as the surface for his paintings. He finds cabinet doors, ladders, and other items that are being tossed out, or receives stuff from friends and neighbors. Ackman also uses recycled paint. He says it saves him money, plus it's the environmentally correct thing to do.

"If anyone is interested in doing something like this, they should start just taking things apart," says Ackman. "See what you can do with what you have rather than going out and buying new."

Bledsoe is Ackman's sister-in-law and she's a former student of Ackman's. He recently inspired her to try using recycled and repurposed materials in her art. So far, she likes the results.

"You're creating something beautiful out of something that somebody would just throw in the trash can," says Bledsoe.

Quinn uses pieces of broken dishes to create vibrant mosaics. She glues the dish fragments to wood that's left over from home improvement projects.

Quinn says the use of trash to create art is a recycled idea.

"I'm very interested in the Dada movement and several artists in that movement would do their art projects by sweeping the street in the morning," says Quinn. "They'd sweep everything up, go into their studio, and say 'Here's my material for the day. What am I going to make?'"

Quinn says she enjoys that challenge.

For Quinn, Ackman, Bledsoe and a number of other artists, recycling means finding a new life for old stuff - discovering the beauty in the discarded. They understand the meaning of the old adage "One man's trash is another man's treasure."