Estelle Akamine, a leading designer in the wearable art as costume movement, created outfits out of material she found at the dump, some of which were glamorous enough to be worn to the San Francisco Black and White Ball in 1993. The materials for Akamine’s imaginative formal wear include computer tape, zipper discards, plastic bags, 6-pack harnesses, shredded paper, hardware items, and much more. Graceful hats from floppy phone disc and tiaras from Venetian blinds completed the costumes.

“Even as a textile art student, I was always trying to find a better way to do an old thing. So, for some years, I have substituted recycled or found wire for thread, mesh for cloth, grommets for eyelets, leather for lace, and the list grows longer each year. So like a hand in a glove, Recology San Francisco’s Artist in Residence program was so right for me.  Each week, I collected materials, new and unusual, from the transfer station site, cleaned the found objects and then prepared them for processing.

Being on-site at the dump was truly a profound experience. It had all the elements of a good war drama: constantly changing scenery of large machines, violence, the roar of trucks and heavy vehicles, danger lurking around every corner, hazardous waste, and an army of men armed with the purpose of making the world a better place by efficiently disposing of trash and garbage.

The lesson of the residency is that it is the future, and I, along with an elite group of members have been there. I am changed by growing as an artist, and life attitudes.  Strange it seems to me now that when starting the residency, I pictured ghoulish dirty workers at the dump, but instead found hard working earnest people who feel they are making a difference in the live of others.  Among them and their associates, I have discovered visionaries, artists, and generally good people who will make changes in our lives. Trash. It is good to look in the face of something that seems so ugly, and find hope staring back.”

Photos and press release for this artist.

Visit Estelle Akamine's website