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Scottsdale Art’s ‘Diversion: Recycled Textiles to Art’ tackles global garment waste

Posted 3/31/23

Scottsdale Public Art draws attention to the worldwide environmental crisis caused by textile waste with its new exhibition, “Diversion: Recycled Textiles to Art,” open April …

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Scottsdale Art’s ‘Diversion: Recycled Textiles to Art’ tackles global garment waste


Scottsdale Public Art draws attention to the worldwide environmental crisis caused by textile waste with its new exhibition, “Diversion: Recycled Textiles to Art,” open April 11–June 30 at the Civic Center Public Gallery at Scottsdale Civic Center Library.

The collection showcases pieces from Arizona-based artists who have created artworks from old, self-sourced clothing and cast-off textiles as their major components. These artworks carry independent messages while saving a small portion of garment waste from entering landfills, according to a press release.

“We’ve asked these artists to use textiles that would normally go into the trash, diverting a tiny bit of textile waste by creating artwork from them,” Wendy Raisanen, curator of exhibitions and collections at Scottsdale Public Art, said in the release. “These Arizona artists are resourceful and have found ways to use old clothes, bed sheets, upholstery samples and cast-offs to create very interesting works of art.”

By utilizing recycled fibers and textiles as media for art, the artists and curators aim to drive awareness and action within the community to alleviate the environmental and social harms that have become byproducts of the fashion industry’s habits.

“We share the same planet, similar experiences and the responsibility to be kinder to our world,” said Aryana B. Londir, an exhibition-featured artist who specializes in statement art using various media. “It’s my hope that this exhibition will spark others to reuse and recycle more.”

According to the release, negative industry and consumer habits are responsible for approximately 92 million tons of textile waste ending up in landfills around the globe every year. In the last 20 years, the volume of clothing Americans throw away each year has doubled, from 7 million to 14 million tons.

Many clothing items are worn 7–10 times before being discarded, resulting in a ruinously low life cycle average per garment, the release stated. Though millions of tons of textile waste already exist, this amount continues to grow rapidly, increasing the severity of fashion’s pollution and destruction.

This continual destruction has distinguished the fashion industry as the third-most pollutive industry of air and water globally, responsible for approximately 10% of the world’s carbon emissions, according to a 2023 study by Heatable, the release stated.

“We are so fortunate to have so many different fabrics and dyes readily available for use, yet the more we are surrounded by textiles, the more invisible they become,” said Bethany Larson, a featured artist who specializes in textiles and works solely with secondhand fabric. “Instead of valuing textiles, they become commonplace and expendable. The lack of knowledge of how to mend them means that clothing is thrown out before the end of its life. The work in ‘Diversion’ gives new life to old textiles and offers one solution to our world’s growing problem with textile waste.”

Using pre-loved textiles as an artistic outlet not only provides discarded garments with fresh purpose, but it also reflects upon and honors the emotional value existing within each piece.

Susan Allred, exhibition co-curator, is also a textile artist who incorporates scraps from her prior work, worn clothes or household textiles, while thinking about the legacy and emotional content of the materials she reuses.

“I might use an old boyfriend’s jeans, some favorite bed sheets or a beloved shirt from decades ago,” Allred said in the release. “The history of those textiles adds another layer of meaning to the final artwork.”

Extending the life of the textiles present in their work, these artists protect both the environmental integrity and emotional integrity of each article repurposed through their creations. In doing so, they hope to stimulate consciousness and consideration throughout the community, encouraging reflection on the resources actively contributing to the waste entering landfills every year.

In addition to the exhibition itself, there will be an opening reception 4–5:30 p.m. on April 14 at the Civic Center Public Gallery inside Scottsdale Civic Center Library, 3839 N. Drinkwater Drive in Scottsdale.

Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation has also planned two free Library Creatives workshops featuring artists from the exhibition. Both workshops will take place at the Scottsdale Civic Center Library.

To learn more about the reception and the workshops, visit ScottsdalePublicArt.org/events. For information about “Diversion: Recycled Textiles to Art,” visit ScottsdalePublicArt.org/exhibitions.