A 'Trashy' Look: Clothing from recycled materials displayed at airport

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By M.J. Subiria Arauz


One art exhibit at Hartsfield-Jackson just goes to show that what is

old can be made new again.

Eighteen unique garment pieces are displayed in the "Recycle Runway" exhibit on Concourse E, at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The wearable clothing is created from discarded and reclaimed

materials, explained DeAllous Smith, a spokesman for Atlanta's

airport. The fashions were designed by Nancy Judd, an environmental

educator and public artist. The inspiration for each piece derived

from vintage designs, Smith said.

"Nancy's exhibit is the perfect blend of art, inspiration and

innovation," said Katherine Dirga, airport art program manager at

Hartsfield-Jackson. "Her imaginative collection is sure to captivate

observers and challenge them to think about resources they can use to create their own eco-trash garments."

Smith explained that Judd's goal with the exhibit, which will be on

display until April 2012, is to encourage its audience to reevaluate

how they view trash, and to inspire them to become eco-leaders.

"We each make choices every day that can help to solve the

environmental crisis," added Judd. "I'd like for people to walk away

with new ways to re-engage their creativity."

Judd, 42, said the exhibit features various fashion pieces made from

15 different recycled items, such as plastic bags, office paper,

rusty nails, aluminum cans, green dry cleaner bags, blue newspaper

plastic bags and pages from old phone books.

"The exhibit is really an environmental education exhibition, but it

uses couture fashions made from trash to capture people's attention

and engage them in thinking about deeper environmental issues," said


A garment in the exhibit entitled, "Aluminum Drop Dress," is made

from aluminum cans that make the slightly-below-the-knee dress

shimmer, she said. The aluminum cans were hand cut into tear-drop

shapes and circles, and sewn onto a used, cloth shower curtain. The

1920s-style flapper dress was created in 2004. It was commissioned by Novelis, Inc., an aluminum recycler headquartered in Atlanta, she


"It's a special piece because it makes you sound like a human

tambourine," said Judd as she chuckled.

The "Jellyfish Dress," said Judd, features an aquatic theme. It was

created using green dry cleaner bags and blue newspaper plastic bags

that were ironed together to develop the second layer of the skirt.

The bodice, skirt and necklace were made from white grocery bags. The dress was completed in 2010, and was created in public workshops in Lincoln City, Ore. Lincoln City commissioned the dress, Judd said.

A piece entitled, "Recycled Cowgirl," was created in 2002. The skirt

and vest are made of pages from old phone books that were woven

together. The pages were also applied to the cowgirl hat and vintage

"pee wee" cowgirl boots. Used CDs were used for the silver accents on the outfit, Judd said.

Judd said the exhibit includes all 18 fashion pieces she created from

2000 to 2011. She said she spent from 150 to 400 hours on each garment.

She explained that she was previously the recycling coordinator for

the City of Santa Fe, N.M. Judd said she co-founded the annual

Recycle Santa Fe Arts Festival, which includes a trash-fashion

contest. She said the festival began in 1999, and that she created

her first fashion piece as a demonstration for the contest. That

piece is not included in the collection at the Atlanta airport, she


The festival is held in November, in conjunction with America

Recycles Day, Judd said.

Judd said she obtained a degree in sociology and art from Pitzer

College, in Los Angeles, in 1990. In 1991, she received a certificate

in solid waste management and recycling from UCLA.

She moved to Santa Fe in 1995 because her best friend lived there and she wanted a change in scenery.

Judd said she is excited about the exhibit at Hartsfield-Jackson

because it will allow her message to reach thousands of people, both

nationally and internationally. "I feel very honored to be in

Atlanta's airport," said Judd. "First, the Atlanta airport has a

tremendous, amazing art collection ... so it's an honor to be a part

of their program. The second reason is that because Atlanta is the

busiest airport in the world, it allows me to reach so many people."