Where others might see discarded clothing, the detritus of our consumer culture, Jarod Charzewski sees the potential for art.
Next month, the Canadian-born sculptor will turn thousands of pounds of donations into a site-specific installation at GOCA 121, the downtown branch of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs' Galleries of Contemporary Art.
"I was always a scrounger, but one day I realized it was art," the 41-year-old says by phone from Charleston, S.C., where he's a visiting assistant professor at the College of Charleston.
When he gets to Colorado Springs, Charzewski will have a week to transform about 3,000 pieces of clothing into Scarp Project 2012 — an impossible charge without volunteers to help with sorting, folding and arranging. After the exhibit, the gently used clothing will go to needy UCCS families.
Charzewski started sculpting with clothes in 2008, but has long used recycled objects in his work, which includes a larger-than-life-size soldier carved from books about war. This installation will reprise one that Charzewski mounted in Charleston, but he'll let GOCA's floor plan and the clothing itself dictate the final form.
Judging by the Charleston installation, the result will resemble a coat of many colors, flung over hills and valleys. "It makes you think about the lifespan of things you own," he says. "They still exist in some way. They don't just vanish."
"Jarod's work raises questions around issues of consumer culture, waste and landfills, and the environmental issues surrounding clothing production and consumption," says Daisy McConnell, GOCA director. "It will also be a really gorgeous, monumental installation that you move through in space and time. The combination of those two components — conceptually compelling and visually stunning — is something that usually results in an impactful experience for our viewers."
To donate your own clothing, drop it off by April 25 at boxes outside GOCA 121, or GOCA 1420 on the UCCS campus. For larger amounts, contact the gallery for pickup. Please note that multicolored or "puffy" clothing, such as insulated jackets, will not work. To volunteer, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.