Donated clothes take the shape of art at downtown GoCA location

May 7, 2012

Lucas Hampton
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You may have noticed the various clothing donation containers that have been on campus for the past several months, but the clothes may not be going where you would expect – at least, not at first.

The UCCS Gallery of Contemporary Art (GoCA) is hosting Scarp Project 2012, an art exhibition by Jarod Charzewski, a 41-year-old Canadian. It will use all of the clothes that were donated and perhaps more.

Charzewski showed a skeleton of his enormous project and explained that he first began making art with donated clothes in 2008, when he was asked to create a project that would fill an entire gallery.

“I needed a large quantity of materials, and I didn’t know what to make it out of,” said Charzewski. “I don’t want to have to buy a million Styrofoam cups or plates and just trash them afterwards; I always thought that would be kind of wasteful.”

Charzewski first builds a type of frame from staples, cardboard and scrap wood, which he will place and mold the donated clothes around, and most of the materials – down to the cardboard boxes – are reused materials.

The 2012 Scarp Project, which spans across three rooms and uses over 3,000 articles of clothing, will be the seventh art exhibition Charzewski has completed using donated clothes, but the finished product is never the same.

“I always try to link it to the topography of the area,” explained Charzewski, “so this one is a lot more jagged, rocky shapes that coincide with the Colorado landscape.”

What does set apart the exhibit at the UCCS gallery from the other projects Charzewski has done is the sheer size.

“It’s a lot more challenging … It’s a lot more clothing, a lot more time, a lot more volunteers to produce this kind of piece,” said Charzewski.

The reward is not only artistic accomplishment, either; all of the clothes that are used are re-donated back to UCCS families and the community.

“I tend to come off as an activist of some kind, but, I’m really just an artist, like anybody,” said Charzewski, and then he asked that his audience be aware of the relationship we have to our commodities.

“How long have you had something? How much did you pay for that? How often do you replace things?” Charzewski asked, relating the kinds of questions that he hopes his audience will start asking themselves.

“Consumer culture is a major influence,” explained Charzewski.

Perhaps that is why he insists that all of his materials will be reused. “Even the lumber will be used at the college afterwards … I’m happy to give things another life, that’s what it’s about.”

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