After a successful first season of their project to turn waste into art, Jen Long and Bonnie Combs return for the second installment of their 3D Residency.
The Avenue Concept welcomed back our 2018-19 3D resident artists this past week to begin Operation #recyCLEAN 2.0. Say hello (again) to Jen Long and Bonnie Combs. This is the second phase of their recycling project to collect clean, colored plastic material for a public art sculpture to be built later this spring by artist Steven Siegel. Their efforts in their four month-residency last summer netted them about 30 cubic yards of plastic material necessary to construct the sculpture. In addition to the rainbow of colored plastic being collected (mostly coming from laundry jugs, shampoo and household cleaning products) they’ve also acquired a ton of used bicycle inner tubes that were diverted from the landfill thanks to a partnership with DASH Bicycle of Providence and Re-Cycled Bicycle of Woonsocket. And to hold it all together, Superior Trawl in Galilee is supplying the project with discarded fishing nets.
The dynamic duo put the call out to the community last year to host recycling collection boxes as part of the first phase of Operation #recyCLEAN. That call was answered by Freeway Laundry, East Side/Mt. Hope YMCA, DBVW Architects, Save the Bay, The Regency Plaza Apartments, Sprout Coworking, Providence City Hall, School One, Lincoln School, LaSalle Academy, Social Enterprise Greenhouse, New England Science and Sailing Foundation and Impact Everything. There were some exciting new relationships formed through this creative endeavor and some fabulous events were held with Providence Green Drinks, Gallery Night Providence and Providence Winter Lights Market.
To kickoff Operation #recyCLEAN 2.0 and explore new community partnerships, Jen and Bonnie visited with Jim Murphy, Sustainability Coordinator at Rhode Island College (RIC). Both Jen and Bonnie feel that Jim has the best job because he gets to work on planet-protecting initiatives like installing water bottle refilling stations throughout the campus (which have already diverted over a half a million water bottles from the landfill), transforming food waste into electricity through a special composting program, sourcing caps and gowns for graduation that are made from recycled plastic bottles, and his involvement with an on-campus bee education program. It’s no wonder that RIC received the 2017 Green Ribbon School Award! It turns out that Jim also serves on the President’s Advisory Board on Public Art and Beautification and had his first meeting the same morning that Jen and Bonnie met up with him. Stay tuned for possible collaboration for the last stretch of the school year they explore possibly hosting the Operation #recyCLEAN boxes on RIC’s campus and hosting an environmental movie night during Earth Month.
“This project has grown organically and synchronicity has been its fertilizer,” Bonnie shared. “It was really no surprise to us when Jim reported that The Avenue Concept’s magazine was waiting for everyone at his first advisory board meeting on public art and beautification at the college. That’s just how life works for us. We look at moments like this as confirmation that we’re on the right path. It’s a joy watching the pieces come together and we look forward to the next few months leading up to the build. Stay tuned for all of the exciting details!”
Meet Our 3D Residents
Bonnie Combs is known for her work leading conservation campaigns with the Blackstone Heritage Corridor and her handmade eco-products like re-usable tote bags sewn from discarded bird seed bags and reusable cutlery wraps sewn with remnant fabrics. Jen Long is an artist/designer, singer and songwriter, and the creator of The Whale Guitar Project for ocean advocacy. Her concern about plastics in the ocean led her to be a participant in the video show ‘100 Days to Zero Waste’.