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Posted at 9:10 AM ET, 08/26/2008

A Breath of Fresh, Cold Air

By Stephanie Merry

Artist Michael Stebbins embraces the fridge as a medium at "The Art of Recycling." (Courtesy of ENERGY STAR® Recycle My Old Fridge Campaign)

Some artists work on canvas with oil paint, some opt for marble, and then there are those currently exhibiting in the National Building Museum's Great Hall; they prefer the fridge medium. As in the appliance.

In the hopes of raising awareness about what costly energy pits old refrigerators (from 1993 or earlier) are, the Department of Energy came up with "The Art of Recycling," in which about 30 works have been created using old fridges. The participants run the gamut from professional artists to 4-H kids, so there's definitely a wide variety of styles and quality, but there are some fun gems among the old GEs. While most people chose to use fridge doors as blank canvases, others really experimented with the medium.

Members of the Frederick Arts Council took items from within a fridge, like the egg trays, and created a train and also used a separate appliance to create a jukebox. In "They're Coming to Take Me Away," Michael Stebbins peeled back the exterior layer of the fridge with a blowtorch and mounted old toys found at a yard sale to look like they were busting out the front door, as if they were escaping from prison. One refrigerator was transformed into a slot machine, while in "Some Like it Hot," a rusty old Coronado was reinvented by a painting of a 1950s pinup girl. And of course there were a number of artists who took the message more seriously. In "Web of Life" a collection of recyclables (Sunkist aluminum cans) and natural elements (peacock feathers and vines) surrounded a quote from Chief Seattle about how the human race is a relatively small part of the earth as a whole.

All in all, this quirky little show is quite the hodgepodge of defunct appliances, and I appreciate it, with or without the statement, because it's willing to try something new.


By Stephanie Merry  | August 26, 2008; 9:10 AM ET
Categories:  Museums  
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