Correlating with Earth Day on April 22, Arts Rolla has launched an Environmental Art Exhibit at the Rolla Centre, an annual exhibit where every year Arts Rolla teams up with local artists through Meramec Regional Commission, for people to showcase how they can put items that otherwise would end up disposed along with the waste to good use.

“It is a way to get people to use their trash and turn it into treasures for other people, instead of throwing away items,” said administrative assistant for Arts Rolla, Reba Fryer.

The exhibit that is on display through the end of April incorporates Earth Day by using anything that can be recycled or thrown away, and is then turned into another piece of art, such as a canvas, that when painted didn’t come out the way it was supposed to, so it is then repainted and presented instead of cast off in the trash.

“From the kids, there are different caps and lids they then turned into animal pillowcases and grocery bags,” said Fryer. “We have some really unique art on display and one artist used only soda cans – the artist has surprisingly not been cut from the cans – and she takes apart the cans piece by piece, and then takes pieces of the cans and makes imprints, so it looks like hair and wings.”

Also on display is broken pieces of China that have been glued onto birdhouses, dream catchers, and necklaces made of belt buckles that the artist used as a base for the fabric and yarn; in addition, the dream catchers are bits and pieces of stripped fabric where wooden rings are used for the base, and the dream catchers include strips of beads that were found littered, said Fryer.

“We have sold two necklaces so far, and 90 percent of everything on display is for sale,” said Fryer. “We have sold five pieces, the soda cans piece and the Pepsi cans on a canvas were sold, and we have a potential buyer for one of the dream catchers.”

The art is submitted by artists who bring their work in, and in preparation for the exhibit, Arts Rolla started putting together the exhibition four to six weeks in advance.

The exhibit has also presented a positive message to the community, and while hanging up the art “young children were coming up amazed, saying, ‘I wish I would have done this,’” said Fryer.

The artistry impacts the community through on-lookers realizing that throwing out whole bottles or soda cans doesn’t have to be the solution since someone is using those items and sending out the message of “preserving the Earth through art,” according to Fryer.

The showcase has been well-received with a considerable turnout, and Fryer noted she was stopped “10 times” the first day with people inquiring about the art and artists, because of people’s curiosity on how they can use these ideas at home.

“You don’t have to be an artist to create art,” said Fryer. “I am not an artist, and I really should have done what these artists have, but I didn’t, and I threw it (trash) away.”

The next show for Arts Rolla is the 24th annual judge photography exhibit on April 24, and events are sponsored by Missouri Arts Council.

*Arts Rolla is among only a few other agencies that receive funding for PoetSpeak happening on April 21, and $800 in total prize money.