I'm always concerned by the rampant drive for consumption that leads life around by the nose, and love the RJM process because I feel like it references consumption but focuses on reuse in a positive way. I've always been interested in appropriation because of the rich possibilities for conceptual overlay. Tibor Kalman's book "unfashion" is a book consisting of images Kalman took while traveling over his lifetime and there are so many instances of objects given a new life and new meaning and excitement through reapplication.  

So, when my box came, I was super excited. Opened it and went quickly through everything and then became disappointed - there was too much stuff that didn't resonate with me and which I didn't like, or thought of as cheap.  After a moment of embarrassment for that response, I Iaid all the objects out on my work table and started sorting, shifting and sliding the objects around. I quickly made a pile of things that I couldn't work with. They might have been detritus from a past RJM, or a color or surface that I didn't like. I ended up with a smaller grouping and reconsidered them. I realized that I needed to look a little closer at the possibilities for modification of each object. It is easy to take things apart and then put them back together in a new configuration, but to take them apart, reshape and reconstruct allows for more potential.

I'm trying to keep my material use predominantly recycled objects. So at this point I'm working with recycled clothing, laser cut as the base layer and then building up. I want these pieces to feel clean and crisp and new, even though the materials are all reused.


Julia Barello is Professor of Art at New Mexico State University, Las Cruces. She has exhibited widely across the United States, at such institutions as the Rubin Center for the Visual Arts, Museum of Art and Design, Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft and Museum of Contemporary Craft. Her work can be found in multiple permanent collections, including those of the Museum of Art and Design, Mesa Arts Center, Isle Royale Natural History Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Craft.