Local students are redefining recycling in a new art contest.
This year, the Ardmore Beautification Council added a new Recycled Art Contest as part of the All Schools Exhibit, a weeks-long showcase of student art at the Goddard Center. The council awarded cash prizes to first, second and third place, as well as a group award for one team’s entry. ABC Director Julie Maher said they created the contest because throughout the years, she’s seen student art that incorporated recycled or found objects.
“There’s a lot of uses you can see that are really unique,” Maher said.
Ardmore High School Art Teacher Rikki Clymore’s students worked together to build a cardboard city. She said the project started out as one student’s, but other classmates pitched in.
“We were thinking, ‘what do you recycle?’ Well, paper, cardboard, cups, glass, so she started with a couple,” Clymore said. “She started elaborating on it and the kids came in.”
Students began contributing ideas, adding a playground, trees, and other smaller details. Soon, the city was populated with tiny people.
“So, you start going over the principles and elements of art, the formalistic qualities, and then she comes up with a piece that was made of recycled stuff, but has all the elements of formalistic art,” Clymore said.
“When they’re given a theme, that ignites their imagination,” Clymore said.
Plainview Middle School teacher Caryn Harper helped her students select famous pieces of art and recreate them using everything from plastic beads, toys, balloons to scraps of fabric.   
“For my younger students, we did group projects,” Harper said.
She found line drawings of the paintings, then broke them down into a grid, making students responsible for drawing out and completing their square. Students used items from her classroom, found objects, and things from home to fill up the squares.
“My mother used to sew, and she had all kinds of things,” Harper said. “She used to make costumes, so she had all these beads and things she’d never use.”
 Her collection of jewelry-making supplies went into the project as well. Another student brought in a similar hoard of supplies.
“It took a lot of planning as far as choosing what to do and allowing every student to take part,” Harper said.
One group recreated Monet’s The Waterlily Pond with perm curlers. Another recreated Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa with seashells and blue beads. Many of the canvasses were painted over and recycled for the pieces, and one piece included buttons from a dress Harper wore years ago.
The artwork, along with pieces from area middle and high schools, will be on display until May 4, when art from local elementary schools will take their place.