Are you sure you want to throw that away?
For those at BRING Recycling, the answer to that question is always “no.” In fact, the nearly 50-year-old nonprofit recycler is about to showcase a 12-foot metal sculpture to illustrate the endless possibilities of upcycling, also known as creative reuse.
“I have not only never made anything quite like this, I have never seen anything quite like this,” sculptor Jeff Shauger says. He and local metalsmith Joseph Mross are the two artists spearheading this outrageous three-piece sculpture, an abstract, steampunk-tinged assembly that is entirely made up of metal objects found throughout Lane County.
Carolyn Stein, executive director of BRING, says she knew from the start that she wanted the piece to have historical significance and connection to the community. Several of the components hold a deeper meaning, such as boilers from Civic Stadium that survived the fire, saws from old timber mills and the historic bridge rails from Gold Beach Bridge that were removed under earthquake code requirements.
“Eventually, the best parts that we found were in the woods behind people’s homes,” Shauger says.
Former Executive Director Julie Daniels decided to raise money and make this sculpture her parting gift to BRING when she retired a little more than five years ago.
“She was really responsible for the transition of BRING from our very humble, cramped and primitive quarters to where we are now, which is this beautiful 3.5 acre facility,” Stein says. “We have lots of amazing, large public art for people to view, but this is probably the largest piece.”
The sculpture is to be the final piece in BRING’s Garden of Earthly Delights, the central gathering place at its Planet Improvement Center.
“There are lots of things that you can see when you’re touring through the garden,” Stein says. “All of the pieces that we have here are made from upcycled materials and are meant to represent upcycling.”
One of these upcycled pieces is local sculptor Jud Turner’s “Chapel of Second Chances,” a tribute to all the world’s religions. In addition to its artworks, BRING also has a vast reuse warehouse where building materials can be purchased, a K-12 program for students to tour the facility and a demonstration garden of what Stein calls “edible and ornamental plants.”
“When you come here, you’re learning about creative reuse. You’re learning about how the stuff we use shapes the planet. You’re learning about resource conservation,” Stein says. “It’s an educational facility, an art garden and a place to shop. So there’s a lot going on here.”
The sculpture will not only feature upcycled materials from around Lane County, but lights, sounds, interactive components and even an alien language inscribed on its side.
“We tried to make it seem as if this has been recently uncovered and we’re still trying to figure out what it is,” Shauger says. “The original idea was to create an alien text that relates to certain objects on the outside to keep us questioning: What does that mean?”
The sculpture, which is going to be delivered over a period of three weeks, will be installed at BRING on Sept. 22. Stein and Shauger agree that the piece is meant for people of all ages to explore and interact with. And, of course, to remind everyone to upcycle rather than waste their used materials.
“Recycling is a deeply embedded part of our culture here, and it is in large part due to the work that BRING has been doing for 50 years,” Stein says. “My hope is that it allows us to be a destination within Lane County where people can come and discover more about what makes our community so unique.”
For more information about BRING’s message and facility, go to BringRecycling.org.