Sculptures created by 11 University of Tennessee art students that incorporate materials provided by steel recycler Gerdau will be on public display April 6-19, 2017 at the Knoxville Convention Center.
“The Art of Recycling” sculpture exhibition celebrates April’s National Recycling Month and is a partnership among Gerdau, Dogwood Arts and the University of Tennessee Sculpture Program. The artworks will be unveiled in a public ceremony Thursday, April 6, at 10 a.m.
In January, Gerdau’s Knoxville steel mill opened its scrap yard to the students, along with UT associate professor Jason Brown, visiting lecturer Jessica Ann and 3D area technician Erin Tucker. The students selected 4,860 pounds of discarded metal and steel, provided free of charge by Gerdau, and gained inspiration for new works of art.
“Most people don’t realize how ‘green’ our business really is,” said Johnny Miller, vice president and general manager of Gerdau’s steel mill in Knoxville. “This project provides an excellent opportunity to support these students and the arts, celebrate National Recycling Month and educate the public about our business.”
Students at the dig were enthusiastic about the project and grateful for the opportunity.
“To create something of beauty and purpose from what many would consider to be ugly waste is an exciting prospect,” art student Thomas Colabella said.
This marks the third year the partnership has culminated in a public art exhibition, and the Knoxville Convention Center remains an enthusiastic supporter of the project.
“The Knoxville Convention Center is proud to host this exhibition, which not only showcases stunning works of art but also reminds us of the importance of environmental responsibility,” said Mary Bogert, general manager of the Knoxville Convention Center, which was the first convention center in Tennessee to achieve Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification. “We have a strong interest in green practices. We also appreciate the fact that this exhibition complements our $1 million permanent art collection.”
Gerdau has partnered with Dogwood Arts for the past seven years and appreciates the opportunity to provide the students with both raw materials and artistic inspiration.
“We are in the business of recycling discarded scrap into new steel,” Miller said. “This event is fun for us, as it gives us the opportunity to view recycled steel in a new way. Each year, we enjoy seeing the creative ways these students transform discarded steel into impressive works of art.”
Dogwood Arts Executive Director Tom Cervone is another strong advocate of the partnership and its benefits, including empowering and inspiring student artists.
“Dogwood Arts is invested in bringing together businesses and artists to enrich our city’s culture,” Cervone said. “Gerdau’s continued support of our organization and the talents of the University of Tennessee sculpture department faculty and students make this exhibition a vibrant addition to Dogwood Arts.”
Participating UT students include Colabella, Reid Arrowood, Mary Badillo, Zachary Edwards, Mary Hallman, Holly Kelly, Otis Kennedy, Elena Lee, Cara McKinley, Hannah Shimabukuro, and Drew Shorter.
Around the world, Gerdau transforms millions of metric tons of scrap into steel every year. The company’s Knoxville mill recycles discarded steel into reinforcing bar, which is used to support concrete in new bridges, buildings and other structures.
Photo: University of Tennessee Sculpture Program student Hannah Shimabukuro begins the process of turning scrap metal into art. Her sculpture will be one of 13 on display during the Art of Recycling sculpture exhibition, April 6-19 at the Knoxville Convention Center. The exhibition is a partnership among steel recycler Gerdau, Dogwood Arts and the UT Sculpture Program.