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Friday, September 24, 2021

Artists transform recyclables into art to promote upcycling

Mike Myers stood in the middle of a spacious warehouse among Winnie-the-Pooh cake toppers, neon-colored toy soldiers and silver jacks.

Myers, co-founder of the Repurpose Project, put the used items on display as part of the upcycling movement.

Upcycling, which is the process of taking materials and reusing them, has recently gained popularity among some artists and eco-friendly residents.

To encourage the movement in Gainesville, Myers opened the doors to his nonprofit Friday at 519 S Main St. during Art Walk Gainesville.

At the Repurpose Project warehouse, artists transform soda can tabs into earrings and weave cassette tapes into evening purses.

Bookshelves were mounted to the wall with VHS tapes as makeshift shelves.

Myers says the artists’ inspirations make the Repurpose Project different from other sustainable initiatives.

“Their artwork exemplifies reuse,” he said.

Sarah Butz, who attended the organization’s opening, came in to explore the warehouse during Art Walk Gainesville and says the project is different from anything she has seen.

“It’s got some really weirdo stuff, which is fabulous,” she said.

Abe Sloan, who also attended the Art Walk, said the building is more than just a place to sell items. It’s a place to collaborate and workshop.

She said the warehouse is an inspirational place.

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Andrea Goodsaid, another opening attendee, said she liked the idea of the upcycling nonprofit.

“It’s the first one that’s caught our attention,” she said.

Myers said the purpose of the Repurpose Project is to educate people so they will rethink what they throw away.

Recycling has been part of his life for several decades.

Myers got his start with reusing when he owned a recycling center in Fayetteville, Ark.

Now he helps run the Repurpose Project. This three-part warehouse functions as an artist workspace, an art gallery and a reuse art supply store.

The Gainesville community has been receptive of the project, he said. In the future, he wants to start up repurposing workshops for children to bring the movement to the next generation.

Angela Hoppe, a Gainesville artist, said the Repurpose Project’s mission is near and dear to her heart.

The project is “going out and reaching the public with an emphasis toward children and getting them involved,” she said.

She likes that the project is introducing children to various types of art.

“It’s not just the traditional, ‘Sit down and draw.’”

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