An eco-friendly exhibit showcases two dozen Oklahomans 

Sue Moss Sullivan never set out to create a piece of sustainable artwork. But when a few coffee filters evolved into something much more, she already had.

Two of the Oklahoma City artist's sustainable works are on display in "Rethink: Recycle: Redesign," a juried exhibit organized by Individual Artists of Oklahoma and Sustainable OKC that collects pieces incorporating art and environmental awareness, 

Sullivan created her pieces, "Private Path" and "Totem," by recycling and placing together used, dried coffee filters. She started working with the filters about a year ago and hasn't stopped since.

"I tend to work after I've got the materials, then the pieces come in my head," she said.

Friends and coworkers now donate their used coffee filters, and she said it isn't uncommon to find filters left from anonymous contributors. Stacks piling up in the artist's studio make it apparent she has more filters than time to use them.

The exhibit, which features the work of more than two dozen Oklahoma artists, originated from the master's thesis of Jacine Arias, creative director at the OKC office of M-D Building Products. As part of her thesis, she created 10 screen prints from shredded, recycled junk mail, currently on display in the exhibit. Each present a message for sustainable living, such as "Use cold water" or "Unplug appliances not in use."

"The idea behind all of this was to show social responsibility in graphic design," she said. "The posters are a testament of how graphic design can be sustainable and visual communication."

Arias said there has not been a recycled art show in the Oklahoma City area since the early 1990s, so she was eager to revive the idea and hopes to make it an annual event.

Ada artist Aaron Hauck, had already conceived of the three pieces he entered before he even learned about the exhibit.

"It just fit with what I do," said Hauck, an East Central University art professor. "A lot of my work has to do with the environment and also political and social themes."

He created "Save Money Live Better," a giant polar bearskin rug, from shreds of plastic Wal-mart sacks wrapped around steel mesh. He wanted to demonstrate how the plastic sacks are so commonplace in nature, wrapped around trees or fences, that they seem like part of the landscape itself.

Although the exhibit is new, the idea of recycled art has been around for a while, Sullivan said. She said she hopes the show will help people discover the many simple ways they can promote sustainability through daily living. 

The exhibit demonstrates the power of community and collective ideas for sustainable living, said Shauna Struby, president of Sustainable OKC.

"When people come and see the art, they begin to think about their own impact," she said. "So that is how it has the power to reach out to people."

"?Caitlin Harrison

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