Aug. 17 2009 12:00 AM

City Hall hosts earth-conscious art exhibit


Before her local municipality started offering recycling service, local artist Kris Love needed something to do with her empty laundry detergent bottles besides throw them in the trash. A painter by training, Love came up with a creative solution. Making use of an old fence torn from her backyard, she formed the body of an 8-foot-long fish and then covered it with scales made from the plastic bottles. The project became something of an obsession, as Love gathered and stored materials for her sculpture, dragging it all from house to house whenever she moved. “I didn’t throw away detergent bottles for 15 years,” she said. “I even pilfered them out of other people’s recycling bins.”

For the next couple weeks, Love’s “Survival of the Fishiest” sculpture will be in the lobby of Lansing’s City Hall as part of the Recycled Art Show & Fashion Show organized by the mayor’s office as a way to promote envi ronmental-friendliness in the run-up to Earth Day.

“It’s a great way to highlight the work of a lot of artists in our community and a very exciting and engaging way to promote the environment,” said organizer Taylor Heins, director of the Greater Lansing Go Green Initiative!

Working with the Arts Council of Greater Lansing, Heins put out a call for artists and received about 20 submissions, which were narrowed to 15 pieces for the show based on how much recycled or reclaimed materials. An opening reception Thursday will include a fashion show by Michigan State University student designers incorporating recycled and organic materials.

While it’s a chance to exhibit her rarely seen sculpture work, the show is also something of a farewell exhibit for Love, who is making the move from East Lansing to Benzie County, southwest of Traverse City, this week. Love got her master’s in painting from Michigan State University in 1978 and has lived, worked and exhibited in the area since.

A Texas native who grew up in the shadow of Exxon petrol plants, Love said she has always had a concern for the environment and where her trash is going, and art has given her a way to take control of where it goes in more than one instance. For years, Love said she cut up junk mail to make paper mache and saved takeout containers from restaurants to mix paint in. Her other pieces in the exhibit include a “Tin Lizard,” a 1-footlong reptile made from hardware cloth and snipped tin. “When my kids were little, I sat and cut up tin cans in 1-inch snips and wove them into this lizard’s body,” she said. “I have scars on my fingers still.”

Her other piece is a mask shaped out of window screen which she has been sewing telephone wire into to give it pattern and color. A work-in-progress, Love said she likes letting people see the labor-intensive sculptures at different stages of completion. “You can see how it’s being made,” she said. “It’ll probably go on for another 10 years. This is obviously the work of a very obsessive compulsive person.”

Recycled Art Show & Fashion Show

2-17 Reception & fashion show: 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 2 City
Hall lobby, 124 W. Michigan Ave., Lansing (517) 483-4141 www.cityoflansingmi.com