First Year Recycles Materials, Creates Art

Kate Wooley’s dorm room is like no other. Instead of buying decorations for her dorm, Wooley ‘16 made almost all of them herself. Her creations range from the display of paper cranes that are flying across one of the walls to a rainbow collage of free paint samples from Home Depot.

Q: When did you start creating things?

A: As a kid I wasn’t particularly creative. A lot of times artists are prodigies, but I was never like that. When I decided to be homeschooled my junior year and dual-enroll at the University of Florida, I started having more time. I was in my room a lot, and I realized that I wanted my room to express who I was, so I started making things.

Q: What is your favorite object that you’ve created?

A: I like my lampshade made out of water bottle wrappers because it was a lot of work, and it’s pretty original. Obviously I got the inspiration from somewhere, but I didn’t see it on Pinterest or something like that. I just saw a stained glass window, and I thought I should make one out of recycled materials.

Q: Where do you get your materials?

A: Home Depot is like my bff Jill, because I made my color collage and ukulele hanger with it. They’re my sponsor, but they don’t know it. Technically, my ukulele hanger just cost 99 cents. I only had to buy the dowels. The floor samples that make up that base of it were free. I glued the floor samples together, splatter-painted them, and nailed it to the wall. I also save certain bits of trash. When people put trash in my trashcan, I get slightly miffed. It’s my trashcan, but it’s also my creative bin. I save all of my dryer sheets, receipts, and plastic bags in there.

Q: Speaking of trash, tell me about your dumpster-diving experiences.

A: I guess I should start by saying that I shower every day and that I wash my hands so much that they’re a little bit chapped. I dumpster-dived for a project for my RCC where I needed to collect . . . what’s it called . . .

Q: Trash?

A: No. Water bottle wrappers. I had to collect a bunch of water bottle wrappers to paste on the background of a sign that says, “Didn’t get your Hogwarts letter? No matter. You can still practice transfiguration. Recycle!” So to find those water bottle wrappers, I went dumpster-diving, and while I was dumpster-diving, I found an entire couch cover of white that I thought would made the perfect canvas and is now hanging out in the back of my car named Zelda. I also found a floor cushion seat, completely packaged (have no fear, there’s no lice). It’s now chilling in my room. I won’t tell you which one, so if you’re ever in here, it’ll be roulette, because I have multiple floor cushions. So, you might be sitting on the trash one, or you might be sitting on the IKEA one. You never knew. Except that the trash one is from IKEA, too. It said so on the wrapper. And it was in a wrapper, I swear. I still have the wrapper if you want to see it.

Q: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve found dumpster-diving? Is it all mostly floor cushions and water bottles, or is there something more sinister?

A: I was collected water bottle wrappers and the caps, and – quick disclaimer – I only searched the recycling bins. And I only skimmed the top. I don’t actually dig inside. So at first I’m taking off the caps, a bit disgusted but feeling like a true uptown girl, and I was thinking, “what the heck is in all of these water bottles?” Only after the third one that I dumped out did I realize that it was hookah juice.

Q: Have you ever taken any art classes?

A: I never took any art classes, so most of my stuff consists of making new creations out of old materials. It’s not what you usually think of when you think about art. I like to take an object and a way to add to it or repurpose it. I find myself creative, but I have absolutely no creative training. But that’s not going to stop me. Until I get that creative training, I’m going to express myself in any way that I can.

Q: Does your art have any particular meaning?

A: A lot of artists don’t like explaining art, and I’m like that, too. I’ve noticed themes in my art, though. I put a lot of quotes on my walls and make stuff out of them. If I see a thought that inspires me, if there’s a thought that’s just too good to let it stay in my head, I want to find a way to bring it into the physical realm.

Q: Where do you find your inspiration?

A: I find inspiration mainly through the people around me. If you’re not hanging around inspiring people, then you’re not going to get inspiring art. Being born in this generation, we’re all susceptible to wasting a copious amount of time on the Internet, so whenever I waste time on the Internet, I look up quotes and short writings for inspiration. So I’d say that the Internet is helpful. But creating art is really easy.

The hard part is shutting off the Internet and actually sitting down to create something.

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