Mooresville mixed media artist Flavia Lovatelli is a consummate recycler. She loves taking cast-off materials, especially pages torn from magazines and other bits of discarded paper, and incorporating them into her artwork.
Her interest in taking thrown-away objects and using them to create works of art led her to collaborate with several like-minded regional artists in 2011 to form a collective known as Art Ecologie. Lovatelli, 54, along with artists Marcee Musgrove and Monique Luck became eco-evangelists of a sort, exploring and promoting the virtues of repurposing found objects, packaging, and just plain trash into all manner of art work, including fashion. Soon they uncovered a community of other local artists excited about exploring the movement. Art Ecologie is an open organization, welcoming all artists with no dues, membership structure, or even formally scheduled meetings. They simply create and work in the sustainable art space at Eden Street Market and follow a mantra of “Adapt. Design. Create.” Shortly after forming, they looked for a way to showcase their creative talent and demonstrate just how far they could take their ideas.
Trash to Treasure
“One person’s trash is another’s treasure—right?” says Lovatelli. “We’re taking this to another level and using our work with recyclables to show off our creativity and demonstrate what can be done when materials are looked at in a different way. I thought that a fashion show could help bring attention to our work and the bigger issue of excessive waste in our culture.”
In 2012, Art Ecologie spawned their first Charlotte show with ecoFAB Trash Couture. The event has been held annually since. The shows feature runway worthy designs by more than a dozen local artists. Venues have included the Mint Museum’s Randolph location, NC Music Factory, and this year’s April show at the Projective Eye Gallery at the University of North Carolina Charlotte School of Arts + Architecture’s City Center Campus.
“The designs are ‘wearable’ yet not practical,” Lovatelli said. “It’s really not about clothing as much as giving artists a different and creative outlet and letting people see what we are capable of doing.”Susan André, 60, is a mixed-media artist that shares studio/gallery space along with Lovatelli and several other artists who take residence at Eden Street Market in Davidson. She exhibited “Green Tea,” a party dress fashioned from foil packets containing tea bags at this year’s ecoFAB Trash Couture show.
“I like that people are starting to think actively about things that are typically thrown away,” said André. “Perhaps people will find inspiration and think ‘I can use this (recycled material) as gift wrap or to wrap a package.’ The shows are also a great avenue for artists in a variety of fields to express themselves in new and creative ways and be recognized for their work.”
Lovatelli agrees. “There is a larger movement here,” she says. “Trash is not necessarily garbage. In a small way, we can help change the mindset and in turn, positively impact our world.”