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By Kris Kerzman, The Arts Partnership, Published February 16 2014

Artists take upcycling to a new level in Habitat for Humanity Recycled Art Show

MOORHEAD – At the Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity ReStore here, the aisles are packed with cabinets, building supplies, plumbing fixtures and various home wares.

Air conditioners line a heavy rack and some of the dishwashers along the wall, you have to admit, might make a good replacement for your own.

While most see potential home improvement projects, Habitat for Humanity is counting on a different kind of inspiration from its home goods thrift store for its upcoming Home is Where the Art Is Recycled Art Show at The Spirit Room.

In its fourth year, the exhibition enlists artists to create upcycled works of art from the array of ReStore offerings, allowing each artist $50 of store credit to breathe new life into these second-hand materials. All proceeds from an auction of these works benefit Habitat for Humanity and their mission to build affordable homes for those in need.

Olivia Cobb, an Americorps VISTA resource developer for Habitat for Humanity and this year’s organizer of the Recycled Art Show, said she was surprised at some of the materials the artists grabbed, like a side table, lots of floor tile, even some cork board flooring.

“I think all of these are really imaginative,” she said, singling out a work by John Peterson in particular. Peterson used spoons, wire pieces, funnels, and duct work to create a large sculpture of a saxophone.

“If I saw all those pieces sitting out, I would not think ‘saxophone,’ ” Cobb said.

Gary Brekke, a construction crew leader for Habitat for Humanity, recreated Van Gogh’s famous “Starry Night” using various types and colors of screws and nails. The effect is humorous and luminescent, with the burnished metal screws glinting as they catch the light. The title of the piece? “Screwy Night,” of course.

Mosaic artist Kathy Luther has taken part in each Recycled Art Show each year since its inception. Normally, she exercises the freedom of making her own tiles from clay, printing on them or customizing shape and color as needed. But for this year’s contribution to the show, a steampunk birdhouse, Luther needed a different approach.

“I’m always looking out for something that would make an interesting mosaic, and you have to try something new every once in a while,” she said.

For her, this meant small, mechanical-looking-yet-gluable items, like small gears and washers.

“This is a wonderful organization, and I was intrigued with the challenge of making something with found objects,” Luther said, adding that she is always impressed with how her fellow artists work outside of their comfort zones and exercise their creativity for this event.

Cobb voiced admiration for all of the artists’ ability to take seemingly mundane parts and configure them into an object of beauty. She said Luther’s birdhouse, like Peterson’s saxophone and Brekke’s “Screwy Night,” demonstrate a level of creativity she finds enviable.

“It has hundreds of pieces to it, and to configure the different shapes on there, to make it pretty and eye-catching is pretty amazing,” she said.

If You Go

WHAT: Home is Where the Art Is Recycled Art Show and Silent Auction benefitting Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity

WHEN: 6:30-9 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: The Spirit Room, 111 Broadway, Fargo

INFO: Advance tickets $15, available at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, 210 11th St. N., Moorhead, and The Spirit Room; $20 at the door. 21+.

This article is part of a content partnership with The Arts Partnership, a nonprofit organization cultivating the arts in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo, and its online publication, ARTSpulse. For more information, visit