Colette Crutcher

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Photos of this artist's work.

My interest in recycled materials stems from an innate thriftiness, disgust at the wastefulness of our society (along with an appreciation of the wealth of potential it affords), and a love of the unexpected. In 1987, I began a series of painted collages using scraps Xeroxed from photographs, advertisements and art history books, finding a surreal connection arising between seemingly unrelated elements. Gradually since then, found objects have crept into my work, which has become increasingly sculptural. I haunt lumberyards and salvage outlets, picking up oddly shaped scraps of wood and metal, marbles and whatever comes my way.

I cannot overstate the value of this experience [Artists-in-Residency Program] for me. To be taken seriously as an artist, given some respect and validation from the outside world, which most of us working alone in our studios rarely enjoy, boosted me to a new level of commitment.

The experience of working in the studio was one of intense focus. Radio reception being poor, and truck noise, garbage smells, diesel fumes and dust being almost overpowering, I had to call upon inner resources that a cozy home studio never brings out. I was there for one purpose: to work. Time often stood still for me as I was drawn into a project, and a couple of times the clock seemed to be playing tricks on me, keeping track of the hours I hadn't felt whiz by.

My daily visits to the recycling pad became like walks on the beach—whatever I needed would be "washed up" and waiting for me, always in an unforeseen form. And of course there were setbacks. Paint, grout, and adhesives do not always age well, and products retrieved from the hazardous bin sometimes are no bargain. But the energy infused into my work and the works of others in the program by daily contact with the unexpected is a spark worth risking failure for.