Recycle Girl Follow-Up

Ren Gersten completed her 365 day Recycle Girl project on February 2, 2012...

What are the biggest lessons/skills you learned from doing your project? My favorite thing I learned was how not to stifle my creativity.  Before starting the project, I would make a lot of art, but only when I came up with an idea first.  In making something every day, I learned to gather the supplies I was drawn to that particular day and just start making something.  Spending too much time questioning if it were a worthy idea or not would take away from the minimal time for creating in my busy life.  I started surprising myself with the things I could make and the spontaneous ideas that would arrise.  It was like my creativity changed from being in a box which I would open on occasion and pull a few things from, to being the environment I was surrounded in.  Another thing I learned was how to communicate to other people about myself and something I'm involved in.  People I hadn't met yet would come into Seconds Eco Store, the store where I work and ask me about my 365 project, or they would see me working on something at work and ask what I was making, and it would start a conversation about my 365 project.  All this was a lot of fun, but it also taught me to speak up and tell other people about myself and my creative endeavors.  Another thing it taught me was to try new things, lots and lots of new things.  It cultivated a thrill and a joy in trying new things. 

In what ways did the project change your life? My art has gotten noticed for the first time in my life.  I have been in one art show, taught recycled art to high school students (because the teacher sought me out after reading my blog ), am working on another art show, and sell several of the recycled crafts (that I discovered how to make during the year) at Seconds Eco Store. I'm making money creating things for the first time in my life.  All this has been very exciting for me.  I feel more validated as a person, because I feel that the things I create have entered the real world around me, rather than just having a few art pieces in my house that I created while dabbling in art throughout my life.   I feel like this happened because in doing a year's worth of art, I was validating that I am a creative person and that the things I make are worthwhile. So, I would say it was a big boost to my self esteem. 

Now what? I have still been making a lot of art, though not everyday.  I am working on a puzzle piece that is part of a collaborative art piece made up of 8 pieces done by different artists.  I will be doing a magazine collage on it.  I am working on a pop tab dress that I will enter in a recycled fashion show that is held every year here in Taos. I am also going to have a bigger piece of my recylced art on display for one month at Seconds Eco Store.  It is the carpet tube table that I started during the year that I still have some work to do on.  So, I feel that a lot of doors have been opened for me and that I have some major projects to complete in the coming year that are really exciting for me.  Also, I still have a whole lot of supplies that I collected during the year that I would like to use up.  I still have 100's of plastic lids, about 200 chip bags, an old food vendors tent, and a big pile of bicycle tire tubes.  I have some very exciting ideas for these items.  I want to make a kite out of the tent, for example.  A complex kite that is made out of multiple triangles and looks kind of like a snowflake.  I have never made a kite or sewn that kind of material so it might just bomb, but I am excited to try something new.  I feel like I have another big creative year ahead of me full of exploration!

Read Ren's original 365 interview HERE.

See all of Ren's recycling projects HERE.

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