Your Kitchen Trash Reborn As Abstract Art | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Your Kitchen Trash Reborn As Abstract Art

Consider the lowly soda can. After the pop, the fizz, the guzzle, it's dumped into a recycling bin and chucked curbside with the rest of the trash.

But just as it has reached a sort of existential low point — empty, forgotten, discarded — voila! The can transforms into a thing of beauty.

Photojournalist Huguette Roe captures that metamorphosis in her series "Recycle," which explores the afterlife of bottles, cans and other packaging destined to be reborn for reuse. Over the course of two years, the Belgian-born, U.S.-based Roe visited more than 100 recycling centers in the U.S. and France, photographing bales of recyclables, sorted and smashed together for the journey to the processing plant.

"I was attracted to the color, graphic composition, subject," Roe tells The Salt of her inspiration for the project.

Egg cartons rise and fold like a ridged, otherworldly landscape.

Rusted tin cans glint like gold.

Green plastic bottles become an undulating ocean.

"To me," she says, "they look like abstract paintings."

But to a lot of recyclers, those bales looked like private property — and many companies turned down her requests to shoot on their premises, Roe says. "It's trash, but they don't want me to take any photos of their equipment — like I am a spy or something!"

Despite those setbacks, there was plenty for her camera to snap — and plenty for us viewers to reflect on. In 2010, American households threw away nearly 76 million tons of steel, glass, plastic, aluminum containers and other packaging, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The bright side: Nearly half of those materials got recycled.

"We live in an environment of waste," Roe says. "Our eyes are accustomed to it and it belongs to our lifestyle, so we don't question it."

But by altering our perspective on the familiar, her images might just challenge us to re-evaluate our disposables.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'Welcome To Braggsville' Isn't Quite 'Invisible Man,' But It's Close

T. Geronimo Johnson's latest follows four Berkeley students who take an American history class that leads to disaster. It's an ambitious book about race that wants to say something big about America.
NPR

Why Shark Finning Bans Aren't Keeping Sharks Off The Plate (Yet)

Fewer shark fins are being imported into Hong Kong, the epicenter of shark-fin soup, a culinary delicacy. But while the trade in shark fins may be down, the trade in shark meat is still going strong.
NPR

Peace Corps Teams Up With First Lady To 'Let Girls Learn'

The Peace Corp will recruit and train about 650 additional volunteers to focus on girls' education around the world. The expansion is part of a larger program launched by Michelle Obama Tuesday.
NPR

FAA Is Trying To Keep Hackers Out Of Air Traffic Control, Official Says

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta tells a House panel that some vulnerabilities reported in a congressional study have been fixed, and the agency is working on others.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.