you’re just about to leave a birthday party and you get handed a goodie bag, probably a plastic bag filled with plastic toys. Squirt guns, spider rings, Smarties, and if you were lucky: grippy-slappy smiley faces that latched onto surfaces when you slung them. Where are all of those goodies now? Perhaps they live in a box. But more likely than not, they live in a landfill.
Corinne Loperfido, traveling artist and founder of the feminist interactive arts group Pussy Power House, creates works of art made up entirely of items that most people would just throw away. Some of her components include, “bottle caps, toothbrushes, wine corks, dismantled ornate wooden furniture, jar lids, dried up markers, stove knobs, car parts, etc.” She and her collaborator, Damon Williams, recently found a vintage rubber chicken in a dumpster.
Hopefully, one day they’ll find all those tiny squirt guns we all got as kids.
Corinne and Damon first met in a immersive art installation by Soni Haze in New Orleans and are currently working on a friends piece of land in Mississippi with seven other like-minded individuals who have escaped the city to shelter-in-place in nature. The duo are working on pieces of trash-art for Corinne’s upcoming Meow Wolf installation in their studio, AKA out of her van. The pieces that they have produced are made up almost entirely of trash. Or rather, what we might consider trash.
Corinne uses her Instagram to solicit trash donations, but sometimes, the trash comes to her. “I had someone reach out to me and say, ‘Hey do you want my MacBook Pro, it’s dead?’ Like YEAH! So, a random person came to my house and dropped it off.” So far they have only had to purchase a few new things like screws and nails. Everything else has been foraged or donated. “You’d be surprised at the kind of stuff you can get on the Craigslist ‘free’ page,” she said, laughing.
“Is there another way to put this thing that already exists to use before it goes into a landfill?”
Corinne asks herself this frequently and encourages others to as well. What else could be done with those spider rings we all once collectively had? Turn it into a hair clip? An earring?
“I started out making jewelry out of bottle caps and a lot of food packaging. Turns out, you can turn anything into a bead if you put a hole in it,”
she recounts how she began her trash journey in 2014.
In 2018, Corinne committed to a zero-waste challenge. For an entire year she tried not to throw anything away. For the last two years, she has maintained her personal zero-waste initiatives. She has since turned her commitment into a series of courses, “Minimalism for Maximalists,” that teaches anyone willing to learn how to live with minimal impact. She covers everything from toothpaste, to menstruation, to organization, to a personalized wardrobe analysis. The virtual classes are available through her Patreon. (Now being offered sliding scale for the next few months due to Covid-19.)
Creation, says Corinne, is as organic as their process for gathering their resources. “We don’t draw a picture on a piece of paper and say, ‘How do I make this?’ We work backwards and try to be resourceful with the things we find or are given.” The vintage rubber chicken has yet to meet its fate, but just as easily as they collected it, they will mold it into a place where it fits, ensuring nothing is forced.
Soon (when it's deemed safe by New Mexico for them to travel and work on their room-sized installation inside House of Eternal Return) Meow Wolf’s new addition will ask the visitor to look at trash differently.
“With each new piece of "trash" we find, the goal is to give new life to the objects through art while simultaneously inviting people to rethink their participation in the continuation of overconsumption and the subsequent destruction of our Earth.”
Corinne admits that not everyone will see their vision, and she says that’s okay, too. Both she and Damon reference landfills as “away.” They admit that most consumers don’t think of their trash again after it’s gone away.
“This [installation] is an apology letter to the earth,” Corinne says. Their mission is twofold: they want to “turn things that people would think are useless into something beautiful” and begin to open consumers’ eyes to their complicity in the ideation of the “away” place.