The Upcycle Is This

Dumpster Divers at the Archives

Dumpster Divers at the Archives

Philadelphia’s intrepid Dumpster Divers are at it again – making fine art out of nothing more than other people’s doomed trash.

See their results of their latest project at the National Archives building in downtown Philadelphia.

Entitled Archives Alchemy: The Art of the Dumpster Divers the unusual project is a first-time collaboration for Leslie Simon, director of Research Services at the Philadelphia National Archives, who teamed up with the Dumpster Divers, a collective of some forty classically trained and self-taught artists with a heightened fondness for found objects.

The challenge to the Dumpster Divers was to create artworks from the debris of many moves and renovations that was otherwise headed for the dumpster, says Leslie Simon. Some of the available materials included miles of obsolete microfilm and electronics, old ladders and library carts, aged leather book bindings, displays, posters, photographs and “lots of red tape.”

With an artist’s touch, the reimagined trash is a way of preserving and interpreting much of the history contained within the vaults of the Archives. Philadelphia’s Archives, one of fifteen facilities across the country, holds records of federal courts and agencies operating in five mid-Atlantic states. Records range from handwritten 18th century customs manifests to 20th century scientific data.

The Divers’ upcycled artworks have been exhibited before at places like the American Visionary Art Museum, Noyes Museum of Art, Perkins Art Center, Please Touch Museum, the Garbage Museum and at many other national and regional locations. 

The exhibit is on display January 10th through April 24, 2014. Gallery hours are 8:30 a.m. – 4:45 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. the second Saturday of each month. Entrance to the galleries is at 9th & Chestnut Streets. Photo ID required to gain entrance to the Federal Archives building. For more information, call 215-606-0101.

Update: The exhibit is extended through Friday, July 25th!

Credit: Press Information and photo from Don Brewer’s Philadelphia Art News Blog