Rescued Refuse

June 22, 2022       Randall Holbrook

Rescued Refuse is an exhibition of artworks by SCA member Shelley Heffler created from upcycled vinyl street pole banners and fence graphics. The City of West Hollywood holds a deep commitment to sustainability and one of its core values is “Responsibility for the Environment.” Sustainability means thinking about our behavior in a global and long-term context, recognizing that the choices we make today have a profound effect on our future. Beginning in 2017, the City of West Hollywood’s Arts Division began offering used vinyl to artists to divert the material from landfills. This used vinyl was once used to display artwork on fences around the City or to advertise West Hollywood arts events on street pole banners. Artist Shelley Heffler received some of this vinyl from the Arts Division and it inspired her to create an entirely new body of work derived from cutting, slashing, crunching, and weaving these materials into new forms.

Rescued Refuse
Exhibition on view from April 13 through November 29, 2022
West Hollywood Library
625 N. San Vicente Blvd

Open during regular library operating hours

Artist Statement:

My work reflects environmental concerns and addresses what we leave behind on this planet. Our planet is over-saturated with man-made products that cannot be recycled. Among those items are hundreds of vinyl advertising banners whose purpose ranges from attracting business to marking celebrations, to publicizing events. After their use, they are usually thrown away, often finding their way to landfills. Each banner holds its own cultural history. I attempt to encapsulate the significance of the human footprint through the transformation of each banner into works of art that reveal a connection between consumption and environmental waste. These reclaimed billboard vinyls are message boards of societies, conjuring both time and place through a physical presence. Each banner is meticulously hand-cut which fractures the initial image disrupting the central intent of the printed information. Colors are sorted and brought together as weavings, collages, or three-dimensional wall sculptures. As I construct the assorted pieces, images disintegrate into complex abstract shapes and complex color schemes transforming the final piece into a new narrative. I strive to harness the transformative power of art to promote awareness, provoke dialogue, and inspire action.

I am also passionate about public art, and engagement with the community is a key element in my art practice. I have utilized quilt-making to strengthen an identity of various communities and to bring social and cultural change. With the quilt projects, I opened opportunities to stimulate dialogue and participation in particular during the pandemic, and will continue this practice moving forward. My community projects also play into my desire to create an awareness of our environment, our cities, and our place in the world.

Artist's Bio:

Shelley Heffler is a Southern California-based artist. Heffler’s art practice is informed by a passion for maps which began as a young girl navigating the subways of NYC, digital imagery from NASA, topography, and a deep concern for the interconnectedness of the world in terms of human values and experiences. In her words, "My sculptures are about confronting the unsettling engagement of human alterations to land and earth. I am inspired by science and ecological systems that represent an interconnectedness in the world we share." Heffler taught ceramics and fine art for L.A. Unified School District for over 25 years and was an adjunct professor at Otis College of Art and Design. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Heffler has created several community programs. Among those are We Are Home, a collaborative project where 130 quilt pieces were created by the public and auctioned to benefit the unhoused. This project was on display at the Museum of Art and History, Lancaster, California. Additionally, as part of the Artist in Residency at Inglewood’s Rogers Park, she brought the community of Inglewood together with her It Takes a Village quilt project.

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