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San Diego’s New Children’s Museum gets set for a year of ‘Trash’

by San Diego Union-Tribune

For the past year, animals have been the theme of much of the art at the New Children’s Museum. And once they are gone, some kids (and their parents) are bound to miss them, especially those mesmerizing, animal-cam-created videos stationed throughout the venue. (If you haven’t been to the New Children’s Museum lately, you must go. Now. Borrow someone else’s child if you have to. Just go before the museum closes in mid-September for its annual reincarnation.)

Starting in mid-October, “Trash” will reign at the museum: art made of trash, art teaching about trash, art-making projects involving trash. It will be all trash, all the time.

“The original kernel of the idea came to me because on Monday mornings, I wait with my 4-year-old, with the front door open, for the garbage truck to come by,” director Rachel Teagle said. “She’s so completely enthused. She’s into the whole process of the garbage can, the man, the truck, the beeping. Trash is a very kid-friendly topic.”

It’s also extremely topical, especially in the two worlds that intersect at the museum: art and education. Consult the June issue of Artnews magazine for a story on artists increasingly embracing trash. Or, you might visit an elementary school classroom to hear a discussion on recycling.

“There is a huge emphasis in the public school curriculum on the Three R’s, and one of our goals for the exhibition to expand that to the Five R’s,” Teagle said. “Every kid now knows we need to recycle, but that’s where it ends. We want to empower them with knowledge of some of the issues behind that — why water bottles are problematic, why plastic garbage bags are problematic. We want to take it to the next level.”

The 13 new interactive artworks will range from a maze constructed by Shinique Smith from bales of discarded clothing (exported by the U.S. to Africa) to Chris Sollars’ creation of a playground from a converted Dumpster (including an overhead video giving the illusion of trash being constantly poured into the Dumpster).

“What’s been so interesting to me as we’ve worked with teachers and artists in developing the program is this is an area where kids are totally educating their parents,” Teagle said. “I love that idea. I love the idea that a family who walks away from the exhibition would be in a position where the kids are teaching the parents something.”

Let’s get a head start. Name the Five R’s: rethink, reduce, recycle, reuse, renew.

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