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When you think of an Artist in Residence Program, what do you imagine? Do you picture an author on a college campus there for a semester? Or maybe you think of a painter using space for a downtown museum to create works of art over a summer? Sometimes even theatres, governmental offices, and festivals will have an Artist in Residence for a set time frame. These programs are typically for an individual or group of individuals for a set time frame where they are provided with shelter as well as a stipend for food and expenses. During this time, the artist is essentially free to practice their craft and, depending on the requirements of the program, may not even have an obligation to produce an artistic work of any kind.

Well Recology San Francisco is taking the standard model of Artist in Residence and turning it on its head. Recology is a waste disposal company in the Bay area that specializes in collection, transfer, and processing services along with landfill management. And believe it or not, they have a program of their own that has been in place since 1990. Artists in the program have residencies at the San Francisco Solid Waste Transfer and Recycling Center, which is a facility that is nearly fifty acres big and includes a transfer station, Organics Annex, Public Disposal, and Recycling Area. The artists are allowed 24 hour access to these facilities to create whatever works they want using the trash. Since its inception, there have been over one hundred professional artists and twenty student artists that have participated in the program. Come August the program will include three visiting artists from Haiti who are offered a mini-residency with Recology.

Recology San Francisco has a unique and innovative approach to dealing with its trash in its day to day operations. Initiating an Artist in Residency program takes that philosophy one step further and creates a creative community within their facilities. Artists from all over are able to utilize the refuse collected by Recology and use it towards a new way of recycling. They create lasting works of art that can be seen by thousands. And it helps bring awareness to alternative forms of recycling that are not necessarily so cut and dry. Check out their program on their website where you will find a wealth of knowledge not just about Recology but about the artists themselves and the program they are a part of.

Pic Via Tom Tsuchiya