Published: Jul 10, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Jul 10, 2012 01:47 PM
Working at The Scrap Exchange is not simply a job for marketing coordinator and reuse artist Ruth Warren. It’s a chance to live a dream and indulge a passion for reuse that she learned as a child.
In the Green Gallery exhibit at The Scrap Exchange, Warren presents a retrospective of reuse spanning eight decades by examining the lives of the two people who influenced her the most – her parents.
Warren collaborated with two of her siblings, Lee Stadler and Lynne Mann, to create an exhibit that focuses on the life of their parents the late Raymond and Leola Glover. The exhibit examines how the couple incorporated concepts of thrift and reuse throughout their lives, and the impact that lifestyle had on their children and extended family.
“My parents both grew up with little money, and during the Depression they used the concepts of reuse as a means of economic and physical survival,” Warren said. “They passed those skills onto their children. I was making Christmas ornaments from bottle caps and magazine pictures when I was a preschooler. My father salvaged wood and nails from old pig pen lumber to use while building the house I grew up in. My mother saved eggshells, matchboxes and used greeting cards to make intricate 3-dimensional diorama ornaments. My childhood paper dolls were cut from magazines and Sears Catalogs. When my sister and I played ‘grocery store’ we used real empty food boxes instead of imitation plastic ones. Is it any wonder that I developed into an artist who simply adores the ‘art of reuse’?”
Sisters Mann and Stadler also have strong memories of everyday reuse. Mann recalls their mother rendering lye soap from animal fat she saved when cooking, and their father carefully saving and drying vegetable seeds from his garden to plant in the next season.
Stadler said the aluminum Christmas tree the family used in the 1960s is still in perfect condition, and she remembers that her father carefully cleaned every utensil and tool after use to prolong their usefulness.
“I learned a great lesson from both my parents: things will last forever if you take care of them,” Stadler said. “...Things were bought with the intention of using them till every scrap of use was exhausted. Disposable just wasn’t in their vocabulary.”
The three siblings have brought a wide variety of personal memorabilia to the exhibit, each piece serving as a detailed example of their parents’ life of thrifty reuse.
Collections include boxes and small furniture handcrafted from salvaged wood, well-worn walking canes whittled from tree branches; family scrap quilts; World War II ration books; 1940s photos of a 6-by-12-foot structure that was “home” to Raymond, Leola and their three oldest children; trinket boxes made from greeting cards; Christmas ornaments created from everyday discards; and much more.
“A Legacy of Thrift” closes Saturday, July 14.
The Scrap Exchange is at 923 Franklin St. For more information see scrapexchange.org
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