More and more artists and organizations are now creating work which promotes and investigates the circular economy. This increased interest in art and the circular economy has been growing over the past few years and is continuing to gain steady momentum. With a focus on the Chicago community, join leaders from local organizations who will speak about how they take creative, sustainable approaches to material use and reuse.
Ryan Jackson is the managing director of Open Books, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that sells donated books to fund literacy programs for kids. Through the life cycle of the book from its donation to its sale or giveaway, Open Books is committed to providing access to books to under-resourced communities in Chicago in a sustainable manner. Jackson has spent the past two decades immersed in the used book world. In his spare time, Jackson does woodworking using reclaimed materials, gardens, and reads to his 16-month-old son.
Barbara Koenen is an artist and the founder and executive director of Creative Chicago Reuse Exchange (CCRx), a 501c3 nonprofit that solicits donations of surplus materials, equipment and supplies for teachers and non-profit organizations. CCRx serves teachers and nonprofits mostly from its warehouse on the SW side, and is working to make creative reuse an essential part of the region’s infrastructure, because “trash is just a failure of imagination.” She previously worked for the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events as director of artists resources. She is committed to providing access to materials for artists and underfunded educators, while improving Chicago’s system of sustainability.
Claire Pentecost is an artist and writer who researches the living matters of the unified multi-dimensional being that has grown out of the surface of our planet. Her work is driven by research but inspired by questions of form. Pentecost advocates for the role of the amateur in the production and interpretation of knowledge, while a longstanding interest in nature and artificiality predicates her recent responses to anthropogenic climate change. Past projects focused on industrial and bioengineered agriculture in a global, corporate food system, as well as ecological methods of producing sustenance. Pentecost is also a founding member of Deep Time Chicago, dedicated to cultural change in the Anthropocene. A sample of her exhibition venues include the DePaul Art Museum, dOCUMENTA(13), the Istanbul Biennial, and Whitechapel Gallery.
Eleanor Ray is the founding executive director of The WasteShed, a creative reuse center in Humboldt Park, Chicago. She discovered creative reuse as a multimedia artist and environmentalist, and developed her ideas at SCRAP in Portland, Oregon before moving to Chicago in 2012. Founded in 2014, The WasteShed has diverted 75 tons of reusable creative and educational materials away from the landfill and back into Chicago’s creative and educational communities.