Rushing home on a blustery day, your eye catches an unexpected splash of color tucked away in one of the town’s many corners. You double-take and see a scene that brings a gentle smile. Scattered around, these delightful infusions of art were created by people just like you who took advantage of mundane blank canvases to create cheerful murals and brighten up your route. But, they are not on walls; they are on dumpsters.
Painted dumpsters provide a place for artists to showcase their work, enliven Cordova during those long grey times and remind us of our amazing surroundings. Painted dumpsters combine function and form to transform what are usually eyesores of waste management into celebrated public art.
Since 2013, the City of Cordova and Cordova Arts & Pageants have collaborated to provide dumpsters to be painted at Copper River Salmon Jam. One of the goals is to raise awareness of our connection with the environment and the impacts of our immediate trash.
Another goal is to brighten up this town and appreciate what surrounds us. We encourage people to take pride in their community and keep it clean through awareness, reducing, reusing and recycling (and proper use of dumpsters)!
Not only does this give artists an avenue for expression, but it also provides a rare opportunity for live art.
What is Live Art? One definition is when an artist chooses to make work directly in front of the audience in space and time. So instead of making an object, or an environment (a painting for example) and leaving it for the audience to encounter in their own time, Live Art comes into being at the actual moment of encounter between artist and spectator.
How truly beautiful it can be to see an artist at work in front of your eyes. Can it empower you to branch out and try something new yourself? Consider expressing yourself in a new way? Why not join us on the hill, pull up a dumpster, and get involved with Salmon Jam on a whole new level?
Author: Kara Johnson was the coordinator for Copper River Salmon Jam’s annual Dumpster Painting and Board Member of Cordova Arts & Pageants from 2013-2020.
Photo gallery images by David Janka and Kara Johnson.