Throw That Art Stuff Away!
“One man’s trash
is another man’s treasure”
That archaic adage has possibly
never been more pertinent than in describing a new repository
at Smith of discarded art supplies and materials, free for
In this case, the adage might
be amended to “one person’s trash is another’s
TRACES -- which stands for The
Recycling and Arts Center for Education and Sustainability
-- is a student-operated program that collects donated cast-off
materials and invites people in the Smith community to use
what they can in the pursuit of art and creativity.
Painting canvas, easel paper,
cardboard in various shapes and sizes, wood, wire, office
supplies, yarn, sheet metal, tile, foam, corkboards and adhesive-backed
color paper are a few of the materials that occupy the TRACES
floor space, awaiting new use by a creative second owner.
Located at Fort Hill, 28 Lyman
Road, near the Smith Center for Early Childhood Education
(CECE), TRACES is open to anyone in the college community
Mondays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Tuesdays and Thursdays 1 to 5 p.m.,
and Wednesdays and Fridays 7:45 to 8:30 a.m. (Open hours will
be extended as student volunteers become available.)
TRACES also maintains a showing some of its sample materials. “The
idea is that people (especially those in the art, theater,
engineering, and education departments) can browse the store’s
materials online and then come in and pick up free materials,
such as canvas, which would be very costly otherwise,”
explains Rachel Gelfand ’07, who helps coordinate the
facility through a work-study position.
The idea for TRACES was sparked
when Martha Lees, director of the CECE, and Heidi Keirstead
’07 traveled last year to Reggio Emilia, Italy, to see
the city’s famous childhood centers that advocate, among
their broad curricula, integration with the environment and
ample space for artwork and supplies. Last summer, Keirstead
teamed with Gwen Reichert ’07, both working on Praxis
internships, and began collecting materials, cataloguing them
and advertising their availability.
In the Reggio Emilia tradition,
at least part of the TRACES concept is environmentally inspired:
while the resource provides free materials for creative people’s
use, it also reduces waste in landfills.
“I’d like it to become a place for people to bring
what they don’t need and get what they do,” says
Kendra Colburn AC, who took over the TRACES operation this
fall with Gelfand, “so there is less waste and infinitely
more creativity, connection between people and responsibility
for our impact on natural resources.”
So far, the art materials repository
has been well used by a range of campus groups, reports Gelfand,
including Fort Hill and Smith Campus School teachers and teaching
fellows, students who volunteer at the Gerena Community School
in Springfield, students who volunteer at a local shelter,
and several Smith staff members who have found art supplies
for their children.
Students at the CECE made artistic
“robots” with TRACES materials, Gelfand said,
and materials there contributed to creative works displayed
during Spontaneous Art Night, a student exhibition that ran
for two weeks in the Campus Center’s Nolen Art Lounge
Though TRACES mostly takes in
art materials, Gelfand points out that the items there can
be used for other purposes as well. Students in an engineering
class have used the items for their science projects on sound
and visual exploration. “Materials could also be used
in the film and theater departments (set design), in knitting
and sewing, and in home-office improvements,” says Gelfand,
not to mention crafts and party decorations, and in teaching
the principles of re-use and sustainability.
It doesn’t matter to Gelfand
or others at TRACES how their materials are used -- only that
they are used.
To volunteer, or to inquire about
materials, contact TRACES at ext. 3290.