Whitehorse Recycling Depot Launches Artist Residency Program

A new artist-in-residence program kicked off this week in an unlikely location in Whitehorse.

Raven Recycling welcomes five different artists by the end of July, each working with different materials, in a new program he created called Diversions.

The intention is to change the way people think about waste by turning materials intended for the waste stream into art.

Whitehorse artist Janet Patterson — who uses natural, recycled and found objects to create other objects — is the first artist to participate.

She takes clothes that people have dropped off and uses them to dress models.

“Each model has 70 pieces of clothing,” she said, adding that’s the average number of pieces a Canadian buys each year.

Patterson is at the depot Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., until May 8, right next to the two red clothes bins.

She will also be hosting a workshop on May 1 for anyone interested in creating art out of clothes.

‘Is it necessary to have so many?’

The idea for the artist residency program came about when Raven’s executive director, Heather Ashthorn, noticed how relieved people were when they dropped off their recycling.

“[It was] like they dumped all the chaos they brought into their lives, into the trash, and said, OK, now I’ve done a good thing by recycling it,” explained Megan MacLeod, Coordinator of communications for the recycling depot.

But putting recyclables in a depot is not the end of the story.

“Recycling is complicated, and there’s more to the story than just putting it down and walking away,” MacLeod said.

Whitehorse artist Nicole Bauberger in a 2015 file photo. (nicolebauberger.com)

She said the idea for the artist residency emerged during a conversation between Ashthorn and another Whitehorse artist, Nicole Bauberger, who suggested the program.

“It’s to invite…other people’s imaginations into how we deal with material,” Bauberger said, “and also just [to] think more about how they use materials in their lives.”

Bauberger will participate in the program from July 4 to 15.

She said she thinks she will use her residence at the depot to build plastic kites.

MacLeod said part of the program’s goal is to get “people to slow down and think a little more about all the materials in their lives.

“And is it necessary to have so many?”