Using glass, steel, and trash from the landfill, woman makes art from garbage

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Why it matters to you

By making art from garbage, Jen Fuller has a positive impact on the environment while also challenging viewers of her creations to explore new perspectives.

At her eponymous Jen Fuller Studios, the owner transforms “everyday objects into experiences.” Fuller works with glass, steel, and trash from the landfill to make art forms that force the viewer to reconcile what the form of the art is with the medium used. She makes art from garbage, with wonderful results.

Fuller initially started using traditional steel frames to hold her glass artwork, as she tried to make the perfect structure to frame the piece, but she soon grew tired of how perfect the steel frame had to be. Now, her artwork contains a mixture of glass and steel, so the steel is a component of the piece and more than just a frame.

Her current project involves glass leaves and feathers, with the aim to convey “how fragile and transparent we all are.” From a personal standpoint, the project is an exploration of post-industrialism. She is trying to figure out and imagine “what’s going to happen when everything is not natural anymore, and we have to make nature out of our industrial materials.” Most of her art pieces are built on deeper ideas and motivations, and either answer a question that Fuller has or reveal something about human nature.

Fuller began her journey by digging through piles of trash at the Portland Landfill in Oregon in search of ideas and materials to use in her artwork. On her first day, she found a suitcase full of 1800s-era photographs. As she rephotographed the photos and printed the resulting images on glass panels, the pieces took on lives of their own. Fuller took it a step further and illuminated the artwork from behind, an effect that really brings the artwork to life.

A dream of Fuller’s is to have 500 to 1000 glass planes video mapped and hanging in the Portland or Chicago airport. Many airports now have art exhibits for the viewing pleasure of people who pass through them. To do this, she would create a video to project onto the hanging glass structures. She wants to play with the combination of digital video and glass surfaces to make an impact on viewers. Her objective is for “them to be feeling the art before they know why they are logically identifying with the art.”