James Arendt, assistant professor of art and director of the Bryan Art Gallery at Coastal Carolina University, has been invited to participate in the “From Waste to Art” exhibition in Baku, Azerbaijan.
For 10 days beginning Friday, Arendt will create artwork from trash headed for the landfill. Each year, 10 to 20 artists from around the globe are invited to join the project.
“I plan on creating a new work while in residence,” says Arendt. “I’ll be working to transform the stream of refuse into a sound piece designed to create a ‘voice’ for others from castoff material. For any artist, an invitation to work comes with a responsibility to speak in support of freedom of expression, especially when that freedom is increasing under threat at home and abroad. Artists beckon and transform society into an environment where we can exist. I hope my work can help those who dare to speak the truth in times of turmoil and oppression, even if only as a banner to rally around.”
Works by more than 80 artists from 30 countries are exhibited in the Waste to Art Museum, which was established by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation in 2015.
Arendt is an artist “whose work explores the shifting paradigms of labor and place through narrative figure painting, drawing, prints, fabric and sculpture,” according to his artist’s statement. Best known for his creations of figures from recycled denim, he was awarded the $50,000 top prize at the 2013 ArtFields event in Lake City.
Arendt earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Kendall College of Art & Design and a master’s degree in fine arts from the University of South Carolina. His work has been exhibited internationally in both group and solo shows.
A fellow artist who participated in the 2016 Waste to Art exhibit advanced Arendt’s name as a possible artist for the museum project.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to take my ideas a little further than usual,” said Arendt.
A 360-degree virtual reality tour of the exhibition is available at www.tamizshahar.az.