It must have been a natural progression: Moving from selling reusable items, to recycling those that could not be sold, to salvaging materials in order to create a new, beautiful product. At least it seems that way when hearing about the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) of Alameda County
’s Redux Studios & Gallery
Tuesday through Sunday in Alameda, CA, SVdP transforms a run-of-the-mill thrift store to a fashion-forward brick-and-mortar location to showcase artwork, vintage goods and upcycled merchandise. What makes this interesting for recyclers is that fact that the merchandise is sourced through the reclamation of donated materials.
Whether it’s clothing or artwork, the goods are fashioned in this eco-friendly process by local artists, both from SVdP’s Artist in Residence program as well as local artists specializing in salvaged materials.
A summation of all the good work done by this program is detailed on the Redux website:
Redux will divert waste from the landfill and bring a new dimension to SVdP recycling and reuse activities — promoting waste reduction and awareness of reuse through retail activities and ‘hands on’ education.
The “education” referred to above is an allusion to the monthly community workshops put on as a collaboration between SVdP and local artists-turned-teachers, who share their craft and techniques with the local community.
The arrangement benefits artists outside of the Artist in Residence program as well by offering affordable workspaces, particularly for those who primarily work with reclaimed and salvaged materials when perfecting their craft. Redux tenants are even provided free waste stream material to include in their work.
The Artist in Residence program is one managed by SVdP staff that “produces art from society’s throwaways.” Perks for those in this program include the use of a studio and complete access to the materials collected daily at the Alameda County warehouse. For such support, the artists of course produce art and goods from reclaimed waste, but also “ develop product lines, talk to tour groups, and develop products for replication.” The program has worked so well that a spinoff occurred in 2009.
The Fashion Artist in Residence (FAIR) program was added as a means to offer those focused on designing clothing “an opportunity to create fabulous fashions from discarded textiles,” in effect helping “save the planet one outfit at a time.”
FAIR designers also work closely with high school students encouraging and developing skills needed in the clothing industry, such as learning about design and various fabrics.
SVdP’s artistic endeavors have resulted in collaborative efforts with some big-name institutions, such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Target, RPS Collective, ProArts and others. Again, this nonprofit organization has shown a sterling example of how to merge creative business operations with morally upstanding practices such as social justice and environmentalism.
Perhaps the next time you are looking for a place to rid yourself of unwanted materials and fabrics you can search your neck of the woods for an organization that can concurrently help you reduce clutter, protect our environment and offer a helping hand to those in need.
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