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RAIR 2015

RAIR 2015 year in review


table of contents about RAIR pages 4 - 7

residency program pages 9 - 37

material sourcing program pages 39 - 59

credits pages 61 - 63



the studio



RAIR (Recycled Artists In Residency) is a nonprofit whose mission is to create awareness about sustainability issues through art and design. Situated inside the Revolution Recovery construction waste recycling facility in Tacony, Northeast Philadelphia, RAIR offers artists studio space and access to over 350 tons of materials per day. Since forming in 2010, RAIR has established itself as a specialized program that provides a unique opportunity for artists to work at the intersection of art, industry, and sustainability. RAIR is the only residency program on the east coast (and one of only two in the country) that directly connects artists to the waste stream. Materials in RAIR’s waste piles come from construction, demolition, industrial and manufacturing industries in and around Philadelphia, and include wood, plastic, metal, rubble, cardboard, and a wide and always surprising variety of domestic debris. photo credit: Lucia Thomé

the yard

photo credit: Lucia Thomé 4


our 2015 year This year, interest in RAIR residencies doubled with the program receiving twice as many applications as it did in the 2014 season. The seven artists ultimately chosen to participate in our Residency Program made good use of RAIR’s unique facilities, producing a diverse range of high-quality work using materials found in the waste piles of Revolution Recovery’s tipping yard. Each of RAIR’s artists-in-residence reported that the deep understanding of the waste stream that they gleaned at RAIR would continue to inform their work beyond the residency. RAIR also developed a slew of exciting new partnerships in 2015 through its Special Projects program, contributing recycled materials, project planning, and fabrication guidance to a broad range of local artists, organizations, institutions and community groups. RAIR has brought waste stream awareness to artists through its residency program, to the streets through its painted dumpsters, to school students through its education pilot program, and now, as PEW Center for Arts and Heritage (PCAH) grantees, RAIR can look forward to bringing Philadelphians to the waste stream with Live at the Dump: a season of public arts programing on-site at Revolution Recovery. 2015 was a big year for RAIR to say the least, and with a PCAH grant for public programming, 2016 is bound to be bigger.

photo credit: Steven Dufala

photo credit: Steven Dufala 6


residency program RAIR’s residency program provides artists on-site access to recovered materials, and a studio space in which to produce new and experimental work. Artists-inresidence receive attentive support from RAIR’s staff, who act as liaisons between the artist and the recycling facility. By facilitating artists’ direct engagement with the waste stream, RAIR encourages residents to consider their studio practice through the lens of sustainability and to thoughtfully re-assess their processes of material-sourcing and waste disposal. This year, seven artists were selected to participate in the program: Christina P. Day, Gabe Kenney, Jesse Harrod, Raul Romero, LOTS (Leslie Billhymer, Amy Magida, and Kasey Toomey), Grant Cox, and J Louise Makary.



Christina P Day March - May 2015 Christina P. Day let the natural path of her attention guide her process of collecting material, and was consistently surprised at what caught her eye and gave her pause. She compared the process of digging through the waste to reading a series of disparate short stories, all taking place in Philadelphia, and all now tangled together in the trash piles at Revolution Recovery. She found herself drawn to fractured patterns, unintentional pairs, and coincidental duplicates that tied these stories together. In the studio, Day found ways to highlight or to obscure the patterns and coincidences she discovered by adding to or subtracting from design motifs – by re-aligning broken parkay floor tiles for example, or re-tracing the floral pattern on gilded wallpaper with melted wax from a found candlestick, or scratching away the faux-marble relief on mirrored wall panels. By treasuring the details of waste objects and by slowly, carefully re-working them, Day renewed the value of dismissed and discarded objects, making (in her words) “broken material, dormant in its state, wake back up and blink.”

photo credit: Billy Dufala 10


Christina P Day March - May 2015

photos courtesy of the artist 12


Gabe Kenney April - May 2015 Gabe Michael Kenney approached his short residency with a clear, focused set of goals. His plan was specific: to use waste materials to create a “Time Machine” and to develop a character, “Robert Collins”, the machine’s technician and mastermind. After building his Time Machine from found clocks, lockers, keyboards, phones, wires, hoses, ducts and umbrella ribs, Kenney orchestrated a performance and “pseudo-experiment in time travel” in which his character Robert Collins travels to the future to deliver cautionary messages about consumer habits and waste culture. Describing his residency at RAIR, Kenney said, “It was a real treat to be able to develop such an extravagant project out of 100% recycled materials. I feel as if I wasn’t contributing to a waste culture by buying new materials that I then reshape . . . instead, [I was] reshaping what has been disregarded.”

photo credit: Billy Dufala 14


Gabe Kenney April - May 2015

photo courtesy of the artist 16


Jesse Harrod May - June 2015 The relationship between waste and value has for a long time been fundamental to Jesse Harrod’s braided and woven sculptural work: foregrounding questions of gender and queerness, Harrod considers the ways in which certain materials and the bodies associated with them are culturally deemed “disposable” or “valuable”. During her residency at RAIR, this metaphoric theme of disposability was made literal. Drawn to materials associated with hobby crafts and domesticity, Harrod scavenged the waste piles on site for colorful detritus, looking specifically for pieces of rope that she repurposed and transformed into macramé-inspired sculptures, filling the discarded materials with a new sense of value.

photo credit: Lucia Thomé 18


Jesse Harrod May - June 2015

photos courtesy of the artist 20


Raul Romero June 2015 Raul Romero used his residency to explore the environment of the recycling facility, slowly developing an understanding of the waste stream and the enormity of its scale. To frame his findings at RAIR, Romero shot a series of short videos. He used the trash piles as a stage set for text that could only be seen from the aerial view of a drone, composed of collected waste and spelled out on the floor of the yard.

photo credit: Lucia ThomĂŠ 22


Raul Romero June 2015

photos courtesy of RAIR and the artist 24


LOTS July 2015 Leslie Billhymer, Amy Magida, and Kasey Toomey – the collaborative team of artists, designers and architects known collectively as LOTS – used their time in residence to design and fabricate the functional elements of a gathering space temporarily installed in a vacant lot at the corner of Frankford Avenue and East Susquehanna Street in Kensington. LOTS used PVC pipe and electrical cords from the waste piles to make a series of “chunky chairs” and “tube tables” for dining and reading; construction site fabric and rubber padding for small hammocklike reclining seats called “swing lows”; blue plastic barrels and garden hoses for “lawn ottomans”; and salvaged wood for “the porch” – a multi-purpose platform and stage for small public events like poetry readings and game nights. After the public garden’s three-week installation, the furnishings and objects made by LOTS were donated to a local community garden group.

photo courtesy of the artists 26


LOTS July 2015

photos courtesy of the artists 28


Grant Cox August - September 2015 Grant Cox gravitated toward discarded and defunct technologies buried in the rubble on site. Inspired by Foley techniques used to create everyday or ambient sound effects in film, Cox cobbled together kinetic sculptures that parroted organic sounds and natural phenomena. For Cox, the RAIR residency underlined a sense of responsibility “to see the most life out of a product”. By pairing old motors, speakers, and microcontrollers with domestic detritus like deflated basketballs, shag carpets and storm doors, Cox gave formerly functional objects new poetic purpose.

photo credit: Lucia Thomé 30


Grant Cox August - September 2015

photos courtesy of the artist 32


J Louise Makary October - November 2015 Video artist J. Louise Makary began her residency with the kernel of an idea: she was interested in documenting the relationship between chaos and control in the yard. After witnessing the workers at Revolution Recovery approach the everyday challenge of taming the clouds of dust at the facility, Makary chose the dust as the protagonist of her piece, each dust particle representing the tiniest trace of the towering piles of waste. Working with director of photography Paul Hinson, Makary documented daily operations at Revolution Recovery and shot a series of choreographed movements performed by dancers in machine-generated dust clouds, contrasting the enormous scale of the waste piles with the intimacy of small human dramas.

photo credit: Lucia ThomĂŠ 34


J Louise Makary October - November 2015

photos courtesy of the artist 36


special projects Through its Special Projects program, RAIR works with dozens of individual artists and community groups each year to source materials from the waste stream and to facilitate the use of recycled materials through project planning and fabrication. This program serves not only to support artists and artists’ work by providing access to reclaimed material, but also to raise awareness of sustainable material sourcing practices both within and beyond the art community. These Special Projects have helped RAIR to build key partnerships with local institutions, and have expanded the reach of the organization’s mission beyond RAIR’s facility. This year, RAIR . . .



photo credit: Dominic M Mercier

photo credit: Lucia Thomé

Andy: A Popera

Family Arts Academy

. . . sourced over 600 cardboard boxes used to construct the set of Andy: A Popera, a collision of cabaret and opera inspired by the life, fame, and philosophy of Andy Warhol, collaboratively created by Opera Philadelphia and the Bearded Ladies Cabaret.

. . . held a one day miniature boat-making workshop at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in conjunction with the exhibit “Traction Company”. RAIR employee Lucia Thomé led a discussion about the role of physics in art followed by practical boat-making experiments, testing the buoyancy of various materials like plastics, foams and papers, all sourced from the waste piles at Revolution Recovery.



photo credit: Billy Dufala

photo courtesy of the artist

Waste Dreams

Jennie Shanker

. . . contributed a range of refuse, from a 10’-long timber beam to a bale of copper wire, to Waste Dreams by the Dufala Brothers at Fleisher/ Ollman gallery. The majority of the Dufala Brothers’ exhibition was made out of, and inspired by materials from the waste stream at Revolution Recovery.

. . . provided a pickup truck’s worth of lumber to Jennie Shanker, who used the material to re-build bleachers at Norris Homes basketball court. As a contributor to the Open Source festival organized by the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, Shanker engaged with residents of the soon-to-be-demolished Norris Homes, A PHA housing project in North Philadelphia. The Norris basketball court was a critical site for the annual game between between former and current Norris residents. Thanks to the newly built bleachers, current and former residents had a place to congregate to support Norris’ past, present, and future.



photo courtesy of PAFA

photo credit: Lucia Thomé

Modular Studios

Mini Making

. . . contributed a variety of recycled materials for a series of three modular studio units installed at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), designed and built by Traction Company -- a 12-person artist collective in Philadelphia founded by, and entirely composed of, PAFA alumni, faculty and staff. After their museum exhibition, the studio units were broken down and re-assembled at Traction Company’s facility in Mantua, where they now serve as private studio spaces for Traction artists.

. . . supplied craft materials like pipe cleaners, screws, paper, paint, glue, plastics and beads for the weekly “mini making” sessions organized in conjunction with the “Traction Company” show at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. This workstation invited museum visitors of all ages to sit and make miniatures with members of Traction Company.



photo credit: Lucia Thomé

photo credit: Lucia Thomé

Haulin’ Sol

Holiday Card 2015

. . . provided materials for Lucia Thomé’s Haulin’ Sol, a temporary sculptural installation in Philadelphia International Airport’s Terminal E. Haulin’ Sol takes the form of a small-scale flatbed truck carrying cargo patterned after Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawing 1152. The piece was made entirely out of recycled materials from RAIR.

. . . produced the most fun and ambitious Revolution Recovery holiday card to date. RAIR staff teamed up with PAFA students to make three giant stockings out of old white and red carpet, held up by three forklifts, to create a 30 x 60’ backdrop for colorful text hand-rolled with paint on the recycling center’s tipping floor. The card is distributed to 2,000 of Revolution Recovery’s customers and vendors in the construction community each year.



photo credit: Kaitlin Pomerantz

photo credit: Sarah Thompson Moore

It’s In Our Nature . . . invited artist Kaitlin Pomerantz of the botanical arts and outreach project “We The Weeds” to paint one of Revolution Recovery’s recycling dumpsters. RAIR’s painted dumpsters can be spotted all around the city at new construction and building demolition sites. For her design, Pomerantz found inspiration in the plants that grow around RAIR’s facility, highlighting parallels between “weeds” and “waste” as valuable materials.


“The plants that we call “weeds” that we see growing in vacant spaces all around Philadelphia are up to a lot more than we give them credit for . . . they are actually engaged in a process of recycling and transformation.”


photo credit: Leslie Grace

photo credit: Jenny Spinner

Nebinger Elementary

First Lego League

. . . worked with educator Desiree Bender to design and pilot a program integrating art education and environmental sustainability. Bender and members of the RAIR team visited a middle school class at George W. Nebinger School to give a series of presentations on the waste stream. After taking a field trip to RAIR’s facilities, students presented their observations of the recycling center to the class, and drew a series of dumpster designs. One design was selected to be painted on a Revolution Recovery dumpster.

. . . helped 9- and 10-year-old boys from Saint Dorothy School in Drexel Hill compete in the First Lego League (FLL) Competition. For their FLL project, the team organized a school-wide competition for a design to be painted on their school’s recycling dumpster. With the guidance of their coach Jenny Spinner and a RAIR team member, the boys held a latex paint drive to source recycled paint for the project, ran the competition’s selection process, and worked with the winning sixth-grade girl to trace and paint her design on the school dumpster.



photo courtesy of the artist

photo credit: Billy Dufala

Torqueing Spheres

Fringe Live Arts

. . . collected plywood sheets for “Torqueing spheres”, a sculptural space designed and constructed by Mariana Ibañez and Simon Kim of IK Studios, featuring eight plywood domes that follow an undulating, diminishing line along New York City’s East River. “Torqueing Spheres” was the winning proposal for the 2015 Folly Program, an annual juried competition for early career architects and designers exploring the intersection of architecture and sculpture, launched by Socrates Sculpture Park and the Architectural League.

. . . designed and built a set of cornhole platforms using reclaimed materials for FringeArts, a home for contemporary dance, theater, and music performances. These cornholes were placed in front of La Peg, an American brasserie housed in the FringeArts headquarters on Columbus Blvd., and were used as a lawn sport for theater-goers and restaurant patrons.



photo courtesy of Fleisher/Ollman Gallery

photo credit: Lucia ThomĂŠ

House of Escaping Forms

Ralph Brooks Park

. . . guided LA-based artists Chris Johanson and Johanna Jackson through the waste piles at Revolution Recovery to fill a u-haul truck with collected wood, shipping pallets, paintings, ceramics, fabric, glass objects, and other domestic refuse for use in their exhibition House of Escaping Forms at Fleisher/Ollman Gallery. The husband and wife duo used the range materials sourced from RAIR to wholly transform the gallery, creating an installation that centered on the idea of the sky and the earth melding together within a domestic setting.

. . . designed, fabricated and installed a set of combination planter-benches using recycled lumber, PVC, and IBC containers for the courtyard at Ralph Brooks Park. The park at 20th & Tasker streets was recently renovated with a full-sized basketball court, a state-of-theart playground, a community subsistence garden and a gaming terrace with chess boards. This revitalization project was collaboratively realized by Urban Roots, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, and Mural Arts.



photo credit: Lucia Thomé

photo credit: Lucia Thomé

Please Crush Museum . . . invited the public to the recycling yard for a day of competitive fort-building for adults. Six teams made up of architects, artists, designers, entrepreneurs and Revolution Recovery staff were given 90 minutes to build a fort using only cardboard, zip-ties and tape. Once the forts were built, teams were given the opportunity to destroy their opponent’s constructions with found bowling balls and frisbees. In the spirit of winning, all teams received a custom RAIRdesigned trophy corresponding to their particular strength (e.g. “Fortiest Fort Award,” and “Think Outside the Box Award”).


“Surrounded by enormous piles of recycled materials, the teams — some from local architecture firms and another with a former artist-in-residence — constructed forts large and small.”


photo credit: Lisa Boughter

photo credit: Lisa Boughter

Monument Lab . . . fabricated and installed a temporary monument at Philadelphia’s City Hall designed by the late artist Terry Adkins using over 400 2x4’s for the centerpiece and project headquarters of Monument Lab: Creative Speculations for Philadelphia — a public art and historical research project overseen by curators A. Will Brown, Paul Farber, and Ken Lum, that asks Philadelphians: What is the appropriate monument for the current city of Philadelphia?


“During Monument Lab’s month-long pilot installation, hundreds of participants authored their own public monument proposals for the city, and over 35,000 people engaged with the project”





RAIR team

Special Thanks To... Billy Dufala

Director of Residencies

...Revolution Recovery’s entire team from the office to operations; Avi Golen; Jon Wybar; Sarah Thompson Moore; Andrew Boerder; Melissa Kaiser; Roy Kaiser; Max Tuttleman; Heather Blakeslee; Shana Golen; Scott Page; John Ollman; Lee Stoetzel; Astrid Bowlby; Kate Kraczon; Josh Goldblum; David Dempewolf;

Lucia Thomé






Director of Special Projects

Geoff Sobelle; Traction Company; Mackenzie

McAlpin; Greg Biché, Adam Doyle; Alex Baker; Desiree Bender; Kaitlin Pomerantz; Matthew Callinan; Ari Barkan; Nancy Chen; Mariel Capanna; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts; Philadelphia Cultural Fund; Pennsylvania Council for the Arts; The Tuttleman Foundation;

Fern Gookin


The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage; City of


Philadelphia Office of Arts, Culture, and the

Creative Economy


photo credit: Mike Persico 64

photo credit: Steven Dufala

Rair 2015 year in review  
Rair 2015 year in review