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TrashedArt at the Lawrence Headquarters Branch – Part 2


April marks the 11th Annual TrashedArt Contest at the Lawrence Headquarters Branch - Remake, Reuse and Renew the items you would recycle or throw in the trash into something unique and beautiful and rethink the usefulness of garbage. This year is our first virtual contest - the artwork is displayed from April 29 through May 15 on the Mercer County Library System website where everyone can vote for their favorite. For more information, please visit the TrashedArt page.

For our second series of interviews of former TrashedArt winners, the library has spoken with Michele Ben-Asher and Connie Cruser.

Hello Ms. Ben-Asher. Thank you for speaking with us today about your TrashedArt experiences. The library and many of our patrons are very excited about the contest, and we are thrilled to have you back to participate. How did you come to learn about TrashedArt?

I first saw TrashedArt when I went to the Lawrence Library to teach a Literacy class. Since then, I have participated in TrashedArt for the last 5 years.

Were you creating art before TrashedArt?

I had never thought about making art from trash before seeing it at the library. I always enjoyed making practical things from yarn and fabric but when I realized I could make things that didn't need to be practical and I could use other items such as plastic bags, cardboard and Styrofoam, etc. I started thinking about what I could make that was unique.

What inspires you?

What inspires me now is finding an item that is literally garbage and figuring out how I can turn it into art. I like it when viewers are surprised at what types of materials I used to make an art project.

Have you ever won, and if so, can you please tell us about the piece? For example, what materials did you use, what inspired you to create it, and what was your artistic process?
My favorite TrashedArt piece is the bird cage that I made out of cardboard, plastic bags and wire hangers called “Jersey Birds.” The inspiration came when I was at Quaker Bridge Mall and noticed that a clothing store was using gold colored plastic bags to protect dresses that they sold. I asked a clerk in the store if they had any bags that had been returned and if I could have some of them. They had many returned bags and were very happy to give them to me. From that point on, I imagined using the gold bags to create a bird cage. I crocheted strips of the gold plastic around wires that I got from hangers. And of course I crocheted different New Jersey birds to be in the cage. I won a prize from Princeton Community Day Trashed Art as well as a prize from the Lawrence Library.

What is your favorite part of TrashedArt?

My favorite part of TrashedArt is to see the uniqueness of the other artists.

What advice do you have for current and future TrashedArt participants?
I encourage them to be as unusual and creative as possible.


Ms. Cruser talks about how she became involved with creating art and her TrashedArt participation over the past 4 years.

Thank you for speaking with us today about your TrashedArt experiences. The library and many of our patrons are very excited about the contest, and we are thrilled to have you back to participate. How did you come to learn about TrashedArt?

A friend who participates in TrashedArt told me about it.

How many years have you participated in TrashedArt?

This is the 4th year that I’m participating.

Were you creating art before TrashedArt? How and why did you start making art?

Yes, I’ve been creating art for a little over 5 years. I’m self-taught and started out with the desire to create a drawing of my beloved dog.

What recycled art medium (i.e. spoons, buttons, plastic bags, etc.) do you mainly work with (for Trashed Art pieces)?

I usually use plastic spoons to create the main subject.

What inspired you to try this medium? Have you tried any other mediums?

I had some leftover plastic utensils from a small gathering. I put a few spoons together and they formed a lovely tulip like flower. I’ve also tried working with bottle caps, plastic water bottles, old magazines, broken CDs and other scrap materials.

Where do you look for inspiration? What inspires you?
Mostly the beauty of nature and animals inspire me.

What do you hope viewers interpret from your pieces? What does you work aim to say?
I hope the viewers find beauty in my artwork, the TrashedArt or the other works that I create.

What is your favorite part of TrashedArt?

I think it’s a great opportunity to be creative and to make something from materials that otherwise would have been thrown out.

What advice do you have for current or future TrashedArt participants?

Think of a subject or two that you would like to create. It might be flowers or animals or something that inspires you. Then throughout the year, keep a few of the materials that you would normally discard. As you start to collect them, try working with them and see if you’d be able to create the subject that you were thinking of.
- by Julia, Lawrence Branch

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