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Artist Donations: One Artist's "Trash" Is Another Artist's Treasure

I wish I could poke around in this studio. Looks to me like there are lots of treasures in there.

I love to have lots of materials to choose from when a creative urge takes hold. My current studio is well stocked. I've been accumulating objects of interest for ten years in this one. 

But I also love a good purge. My space feels more inviting and I feel lighter when I get rid of things I no longer use or that are taking up space I need for something else.

Still, I hate to throw away things that still have use. In part that's the way I was brought up - "Waste not, want not." Then there's the question of where all the true trash ends up.

Luckily, artists like John T. Unger transform discards into functional art so they don't end up in someone else's backyard.

"I believe that creative re-use has the potential to spark new ways of looking at the world... if one thing can be turned into another, what else can we change? Successful recycled art and design encourages creativity in others - it's alchemical, magical, subversive, and transformative by nature.


My sculptural work is a way of demonstrating in concrete physical terms that the world and the items in it are not as obvious, limited or easily identified as they appear at first glance. It allows me to engage my audience to be more creative in their own daily lives and to think more creatively about the world around them." Fire Bowl Artist John T. Unger: Remaking the World from its Broken and Cast Off Pieces


John is moving his studio and I resonated with what he said about the way he decided to declutter.

"This week I gave away the bulk of my shop equipment and ten truckloads of art supplies and displays to local not-for-profit arts groups.


I'm not the kind of person who aspires to a minimalist lifestyle, so I found myself a bit surprised by how good it felt to do this. Normally, I'd be in a panic about letting go of the cool stuff I've collected over the last decade. Instead, I found that the act of giving supplies and tools to organizations who could help newer, younger artists move forward made me feel like I had come full circle in the cycle of artistic life.


By nature, most artists tend to be hoarders. When you start out in this business, supplies can be expensive, or scarce, and you develop the habit of saving every scrap that might conceivably be used in another art work. I had very few tools when I started and I relied on more established artists to let me borrow space and tools in their studios. Often, when artists were moving or cleaning out their studios, they would offer me boxes of supplies to make room for new materials.


It's pretty much a win-win - I can write off half the value of the gear, upgrade to more appropriate tools, help other artists, and I don't have to spend a ton of time listing things on EBay or Craigslist."

You can read more about other generous acts in "Passing the Plasma Torch."

Everyday, I appreciate the generosity of wonderful artists like John.

Will you help me pay it forward by making a donation to CERF+?

Say yes and you'll create a triple win:

  • Artists will benefit your generosity;
  • CERF will send you a tax receipt;
  • I'll send you a copy of a book in which I am a contributing author - "Courageous Stories of Inspiration" - at no charge and I'll also pay for shipping.









Yes, I want to help other artists.

(I'll need your mailing address, so remember to check the box on the form next to "I am an ArtMatters! subscriber and am making this donation in response to their challenge. Please notify ArtMatters! of this gift.")


Read these related articles about other kinds of donations:

Artist Donations for Rescue Animals

Making the Most of Giving Art to Fundraisers
How to Respond to Requests for Art Donations
All Those Deals ... But Art Heals 

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