April 2018

by Cassie Stephens, Art Teacher, Johnson Elementary

I just did a little Googling to find out just how much trash the average person produces in one day. Want to take a guess? According to the National Geographic Channel’s website, we’re responsible for making 4.6 pounds of garbage each day. It’s hard to imagine! Doing a little math, that’s approximately 1,679 pounds per person, per year. The thought is both sad and disturbing.

However, before we get too down in the dumps (literally!) about that, I’d like to introduce you to Nashville artist Miranda Herrick. One man’s trash is this amazing artist’s treasure. When you look at the meticulous, meditative, and marvelous work of this artist, it’s hard to believe that her materials were once destined for a landfill.

Miranda Herrick is both a visual artist and a gallery assistant at Bennett Galleries in Green Hills. When I met her there, to create a video of her discussing her work, she shared with me not only the beautiful space of Bennett Galleries and all the diverse work there, but also her pieces. I had already heard about Miranda through the artists’ grapevine. “She creates artwork with candy wrappers and trash!” I immediately knew I had to meet her. My elementary art students would certainly be intrigued by an artist who works with such unusual materials.

Now, when you think of “trash” art, I’m sure a certain picture comes to your mind: maybe a little messy, perhaps grimy and gritty. Well, let me tell you, Miranda’s work is the opposite of that. The recycled pieces she had on display were created from flattened aluminum cans adhered to an MDF [medium-density fiberboard] frame with small nails. Her Reflective series consists of four large, identical pieces that are hung together. The effect is like that of a kaleidoscope with small shifting, sparkling, jewel-like pieces. Only upon very close inspection does one start to recognize the labels of a Diet Coke or a La Croix can. And that’s when you draw in your breath and realize each one of these tiny sparkly pieces has been meticulously cut out from an aluminum can!

Miranda shared that she’s inspired by her grandmother’s quilts, Islamic tiles, and Op Art, to name a few. This makes sense, as her work is filled with repetition and pattern. When creating, she works on four large squares of MDF at a time, using the cans collected from friends and family. To start, she removes the top and bottom of the can. What’s left is a flat sheet of aluminum that provides an array of color on one side and a reflective surface on the other. As she works, she uses scissors to cut out shapes and places them one by one on her four squares. Because the squares are to be the same, she places each identically cut piece in the same place on each square. Then, each piece is hammered in place. She likens the aluminum to fabric and the nails to stitching, just like a quilt.

It was so inspiring to see an artist create with this material. Miranda has even created rugs from grocery bags and works of art from candy wrappers. What a wonderful message this sends: Artists can use a variety of materials to create—even what some deem as trash. The creative mind has no bounds. Thank you so much, Miranda, for sharing your process and teaching us this important lesson!

Herrick is exhibiting her new drawing series Works and Days 2 at Bennett Galleries. The show opens with a reception on April 21 from 6 to 9 p.m., and remains on view until May 19.

For more information, visit www.bennettgalleriesnashville.com. See more of Miranda Herrick’s art at www.mirandaherrick.com.


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