Making Materials Matter

As makers, we can make a lot of waste. But there are creative solutions for artists and fabricators, from sourcing more sustainable materials to diverting reusable resources from the waste stream.

This week, NextFab and The Resource Exchange got together to host an open forum focused on sustainability in the arts. Local artists, organizations, businesses, and city representatives discussed the benefits and challenges of making sustainably.

Moderated by Grid Magazine's Alex Mulcahy, the panel of special guests led the room in talking about art and its contributions to the waste stream. Attendees and panel members alike shared their experiences of what it really means to reduce, reuse, and recycle both in creative settings, and in their daily lives. There was a creative exchange of ideas and solutions to a number of environmental problems facing the arts. Many artists shared how they solve these problems in their work, showcasing pieces that ranged from textiles, to sculpture, to jewelry and all incorporated reused and salvaged materials. During the panel discussion, featured artist Heidi Barr of The Kitchen Garden Series shared her experience in letting used fabrics dictate how and what she designs, rather than designing first and searching for the right fabric that's new. NextFab Artist in Residence Nate Harris, showed a block printing demo with small scrap wood pieces cut off from other NextFab projects. Throughout the evening, artists, businesses, and community members were able to exchange their creative solutions to solving environmental problems.

The room was full of creative and like minded community members, with representatives from RAIR, Bennet Compost, VURT Creative, Philly Fixers Guild, InLiquid, Forget Me Knot Flowers, The Nesting House, and more!

Featured artists included Nate Harris, Brick & Wire, Idol Light, The Kitchen Garden Series, Tiffany Threadgould, Kevin B. Huang, and Angela McQuillan.

Locally made refreshments were provided by Funky Fresh Kombucha, Jezabel's Cafe, and Philly Fair Trade Roasters.

Thanks to our moderator Alex Mulcahy – Publisher, Grid Magazine

and to our expert panel:

+ Karyn Gerred – Executive Director, The Resource Exchange

+ Melissa Guglielmo – North Philly Location Manager, NextFab

+ Nic Esposito – Zero Waste and Litter Director, City of Philadelphia

+ Angela McQuillan – Curator, Esther Klein Gallery/University City Science Center

+ Sara Lepori – Economic Development Zones Manager, City of Philadelphia Department of Commerce

+ Tiffany Threadgould – Chief Design Junkie, Terracycle

+ Angela Vosburgh – Creative Director, General Manager, Kevin O'Brien Studio

And thank you to all who came out and contributed to the discussion!

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