In celebration of Earth Day, two local artists are creating an exhibit featuring trash, plastic, and other recycled materials at the Center for Contemporary Arts. Refuse Reformation, a two-person exhibition opening at the Center in late March, are works created by Kari Perkins and Larla Morales. The art featured in the exhibition is made entirely from recycled materials and reclaimed plastics. Unitedly, the artists wanted to create an exhibition that sends a message – one about the overuse of plastics and underutilized resources.
According to the artists, Refuse Reformation is a study of reclaiming our waste and an opportunity to see trash as beautiful. Perkins has created over 10 dresses refashioned from plastics and recycled materials, as well as baskets, and even a throne. Morales has made several sculptures, mobiles, and 2D reliefs, comprised of various found and discarded objects that seek to transform mundane waste into elevated fine art. The pair created several immersive installations throughout the space. With their installation, the artists invite visitors to reframe and reimagine trash and plastics as creative resources. “Plastic is everywhere,” Perkins said. “All of our food and clothing – most anything purchased – is wrapped in plastic. It goes right into the trash, then the landfill, where it can take 20 to 500 years to biodegrade.” The artists bring a new awareness to everyday plastic consumption and aspire to create a dialogue about daily plastic use, encourage personal accountability of one’s plastic consumption, and hopefully divert some away from the landfill.
All the items incorporated in the show are created from recycled materials. Many of the plastics and materials are saved from the artists’ household – quite often pulled from the trash, washed, and trimmed for use in the pieces. Perkins said, “I am amazed at how much plastic our family alone uses. I feel inspired to create a way to reuse plastic for the home.”
Perkins began her career as a costume designer in community theater and later got into film after relocating to Austin. Her first film credit as a costume designer was the seminal independent feature “Dazed and Confused” with Richard Linklater. Perkins’ collaboration with Linklater continued through the years and their films together include “A Scanner Darkly,” “Boyhood,” “Where’d You Go, Bernadette,” and “Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood” (where Perkins has a cameo appearance as a NASA seamstress). She relocated to Abilene with her family about a year and a half ago and joined as an Artist Member at the Center shortly after. Perkins regularly participates in group shows at the Center and had her art selected for the Center’s most recent CCAN exhibition by juror Colette Copeland.
Morales is a multidisciplinary artist living and working in Abilene. A long-time artist member and studio resident at the Center, Morales is also a part of the Very Good Artist Collective. Her Visayan heritage and ever deepening connection to Texas and the Southwest is foundational to her work as a creative. She employs ancient art-making techniques alongside contemporary media and practices, allowing for a dialogue between past, present, and future to occur in her pieces.
Refuse Reformation is on view at the Center in the Breed Gallery from March 24 through May 6.
Contributed By The Center For Contemporary Arts
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