The City of West Hollywood’s Arts Division is debuting a new exhibition, Rescued Refuse, featuring artworks by Shelley Heffler, at the West Hollywood Library, located at 625 N. San Vicente Boulevard. The wall sculptures are created from upcycled vinyl street pole banners and fence graphics.
Rescued Refuse debuts in time for global Earth Day events on April 22 and will be on display at the West Hollywood Library, through November 30, 2022.
Beginning in 2017, the City began offering used vinyl to artists to divert the material from landfills. This used vinyl was once used to display artwork on fences around the City or to advertise West Hollywood arts events on street pole banners.
Artist Shelley Heffler received some of this vinyl from the City and it inspired her to create an entire new body of work derived from cutting, slashing, crunching, and weaving these materials into new forms. The 21 Rescued Refuse wall sculptures on display in the exhibition were created from upcycled vinyl that was once used to promote City of West Hollywood arts programs such as the One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival (renamed the WeHo Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival in 2022); the City’s Cultural Plan; the City and Rogue Theatre Ensemble’s site-specific immersive theatre production ofSeñor Plummer’s Final Fiesta; and past library exhibitions including Prior Pleasures by Ellen Cantor, Adelaide Drive by Don Bachardy and Wayne Shimabukuro, and In West Hollywood by Jay Lynn (formerly Ramiro) Gomez and David Feldman. The ‘Rescued Refuse’ exhibition spans both floors of the West Hollywood Library.
Shelley Heffler is a Southern California-based artist whose art practice is informed by a passion for maps, which began as a young girl navigating the subways of NYC, digital imagery from NASA, topography, and a deep concern for the interconnectedness of the world in terms of human values and experiences. Heffler’s work reflects environmental concerns and addresses what the over-saturation of man-made products that cannot be recycled. Among those items are hundreds of vinyl advertising banners whose purpose ranges from attracting business, to marking celebrations, to publicizing events. After their use, they are usually thrown away, often finding their way to landfills. Each banner holds its own cultural history.
Heffler attempts to encapsulate the significance of the human footprint through the transformation of each banner into works of art that reveal a connection between consumption and environmental waste. These reclaimed billboard vinyls are message boards of societies, conjuring both time and place through a physical presence.
Each banner is meticulously hand-cut, fracturing the initial image and disrupting the central intent of the printed information. Colors are sorted and brought together as weavings, collages, or three-dimensional wall sculptures. As Heffler constructs the assorted pieces, images disintegrate into complex abstract shapes and complex color schemes, transforming the final piece into a new narrative. Heffler strives to harness the transformative power of art to promote awareness, provoke dialogue, and inspire action.
Heffler taught ceramics and fine art for the Los Angeles Unified School District for more than 25 years and was an adjunct professor at Otis College of Art and Design. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Heffler has created several community programs. Among those are We Are Home, a collaborative project where 130 quilt pieces were created by the public and auctioned to benefit the unhoused. This project was on display at the Museum of Art and History in Lancaster, California. Additionally, as part of the Artist in Residency program at Inglewood’s Rogers Park, she brought the community together with her It Takes a Village quilt project.
Also currently on view at the West Hollywood Library are the following artworks and exhibitions:
- Historic WeHo, a photographic exhibition of West Hollywood’s historic buildings as taken by Tony Coelho;
- Remembering Beverly Park, a display of historic photographs of the children’s amusement park formerly located just outside the border of West Hollywood;
- Heart Sculpture, a sculpture made from upcycled books by Mr. Brainwash;
- West Hollywood Park, a painting by Jay Lynn Gomez highlighting invisible labor forces; and
- Platanus Bibliotechalis, a site-specific sculpture of an imaginary sycamore tree by David Wiseman.
For more information about City of West Hollywood arts programming, visit www.weho.org/arts.