Sol’Sain’T Many Kin: All Sol’Skin Is A Free Kin
(ON VIEW: January 18 – April 1, 2017)

Materials for the Arts is pleased to present “Sol’Sain’t Many Kin: All Sol’Skin Is A Free Kin”, a solo exhibition of mixed-media assemblage and sculptural works by artist-in-residence Sol’Sax.

Retracing the lives and lessons of revered figures, Sol’Sax turns everyday objects extraordinary. Icons such as Josephine Baker, Fela Kuti and Muhammad Ali appear in the form of sculptures and mixed-media assemblages.

Past Exhibitions

Contemporary Reuse ( September 21 – December 4, 2017)

Contemporary Reuse is an exhibit that brings together the work of current and impactful artists who celebrate reusable materials in their art practice. Sculptures made of car bumpers, fabric scraps, old puzzles, and cut-off wooden blocks, meet with collages made of shredded and ripped paper, alongside performances using metal hardware as instruments and textiles.

Featuring artwork by Andrea Burgay, Pauline Galiana, Justin Horne, Annalisa Iadicicco, Adam Daniel Murray, Ben Pederson, and Sol Sax.

Twisted woven Tied | Dianne Smith (June 15 – September 4, 2017)

Flier imageTwisted Woven Tied features 51 stunning works crafted from a wide range of culturally resonant materials. The items are not merely reused but are manipulated into new identities; ribbons knotted into upright forms, yarns cinched into bulbous figures and sisal ropes binding objects together.

The use of discarded materials summons the harmony of lived experiences, inviting viewers to use the aesthetic as a springboard to explore and embrace their innermost thoughts and feelings on race, gender, religion, inequality and power.


Institutional memory: 35mm slides from the met‘s collection reimagined (March 16 – June 2, 2017)

Institutional Memory exhibition imageWhile advances in technology have made physical photographic slides obsolete, this exhibition, created entirely from the recently digitized slide collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, reinvents the format as a new artistic medium.

Materials for the Arts, the creative re-use center of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art have teamed up to showcase new artwork created and inspired by the Met’s slide collection.

Participating artists include Martina Mrongovius, Michael Kelly Williams, Andrea Wolf, and Dustin Yellin, as well as work produced in the Teens Take the Met workshop with Jean Shin. With 5,000 years of art history at their disposal, these artists’ interpretations provide an opportunity to explore and imagine the future of institutional archives and their role in how we experience museums and culture at large.

Found and Funky | Michael Kelly Williams (December 2016 – March 2017)

cacalvo_20161031-1102_mkw-mfta-43 “Found and Funky,” a solo exhibition of mixed media and assemblage works produced by artist Michael Kelly Williams.

Drawing inspiration from the expansive collection of found objects available in the MFTA warehouse, “Found” conveys the sense of affirmation in discovering new objects, while “Funky” pays homage to a popular jazz term used to convey praise of an art piece having achieved its highest form. In Found and Funky, Williams transforms items once deemed unworthy of use to a newly transcendent title of artwork.


A Symphony of Chimes (September 2016 – December 2016)

Skip LaPlante builds musical instruments out of broken glass, ceramic tea saucers, kitchen utensils, door keys, crooked nails, belt buckles, and rainbow-colored plastic toppers whose origins are unknown.

This exhibition invites you to play music on these 130 wind chimes created entirely out of reusable materials by LaPlante, many of which were completed recently during his 2016 arts residency at Flushing Town Hall. Some of the pieces date back to the 1970s, including a silver pie server and ladle that give off a delicate tinkling sound at the slightest touch. “We think too narrowly about what objects can do,” LaPlante said. He composes his own music to play this orchestra of reuse that gives a gentle homemade sound when pushed and touched by fingertips and hands, creating melodies and soothing rhythms.


 Jean Shin: Spring Collection (April 2016 – August 2016)

In a series of new works made out of leather remnants from the production of luxury accessories, Jean Shin reconstructs the “body” of these hides. These industry remnants hint at the elaborate manufacturing process that transforms raw materials into consumer products. The enigmatic voids that remain promise an object of desire that can never be known. The exhibition explores how the origins of material impact their meaning and how production and display alter our


Blonde Ambition | Juan Hinojosa (December 2015 – april 2016)

MFTA is pleased to present ‘Blonde Ambition’, a solo exhibition of collage work produced by New York-based artist Juan Hinojosa during his fall artist residency. Featuring 12 new collage works, Hinojosa continues his exploration of consumerism with vivid imagery created by juxtaposing discarded objects found in the Materials for the Arts warehouse.


Arts Integration: Creativity in the Classroom  (September – December 2015)

Arts Integration: Creativity in the Classroom features artwork by New York City public school teachers who participated in MFTA’s ASPDP Summer 2015 Workshop Series with Master Teaching Artist Joy Suarez.

Teachers of all disciplines creatively reused materials to easily enhance their classroom curriculum and create examples to share with their students. Their students create puppets for studying animals in Science, game-boards for learning Social Studies vocabulary, mosaics for understanding Math concepts, printmaking for writing inspiration, and much more.

Materials for the Arts is proud to support the teachers of NYC by making reusable supplies available to them every week of the year.


MFTA loves NYC: A Retrospective on Creative Reuse  (April – June 2015)

MFTA Loves NYCSince 1978, Materials for the Arts (MFTA) has collected surplus materials and redistributed them, for free, to thousands of nonprofits and government agencies with arts programming. MFTA is a unique example of innovative partnerships between the public and private sectors in support of the arts and the environment.

This exhibition chronicles MFTA’s history through a selection of archival catalogues, memorandums, press pieces, and photographs. The memorabilia demonstrates MFTA’s impact across the five boroughs and illustrates its potential beyond New York City as a model for creative reuse within an urban landscape. Featuring original works created by Basil Twist, Jane Dickson, Janet Ziff, Justen Ladda, Mary Beth Edelson, Paul Laster, and Sally Heller, the exhibition illustrates the impact that MFTA’s donation cycle has had on artistic practices since 1978.

MFTA Loves NYC provides insight into the challenges, growth, and ultimate success of the ideas and people behind the organization. On view April 16 – June 20 in the MFTA Gallery. Share your MFTA story with #MFTAlovesNYC!


members only (March – April 2015)


“Easy to find” Maria Dimanshtein (photographic print, paint paper).

During this second annual exhibition, Materials for the Arts showcases work created by members of its diverse group of recipients. All exhibited work is inspired from materials found at MFTA and is a testament to the artistic merit of reuse.






Over the course of the Fall of 2014, Materials for the Arts Artist In Residence Lina Puerta worked inside NYC’s premier reuse facility sorting through the thousands of donated materials, carefully picking bits of lace, fabric, broken jewelry, and much more to create this series of sculptures and site-specific installation.

The processes of wearing, decay, life and death in the urban realm through nature in time are recurrent themes in Puerta’s work. In this series these concepts are brought to life by her meticulously detailed workmanship and a rich, baroque treatment of surfaces.



The exhibit featured a sampling of work that demonstrates how teachers can utilize art, creativity, and hands-on learning as a means of better instructing their students. Featuring artwork created by teachers from diverse backgrounds who have participated in MFTA Workshops led by Master Teaching Artist Joy Suarez, the exhibition explored the way that MFTA Professional Development workshops instruct teachers on how to use alternative materials in order to add excitement and a deeper level of learning to their classroom curriculum.


4MFTA artist-in-residence Bernard Klevickas’ work involves taking apart discarded objects made from plastic, metal, and Styrofoam. He then reassembles those materials into large patchwork sculptures composed of dynamic “quilts” of different materials and colors that remind us to rethink the things we put into the waste stream every day.

Reuse Remixed: Small Works Show (MARCH-MAY 2014)

11The exhibition featured 150 small works from over 60 artists, all of which emphasize creative reuse. By repurposing materials found at MFTA and throughout NYC, including rubber tires, scratched records and cassette tapes, these artists join in the grand tradition of NYC mixed media artists such as Robert Rauschenberg and Louise Nevelson. These artworks provoke us to engage in a dialogue about our environment and the everyday objects that surround us.

community maps: mosaics of ps209q (january – february 2014)

signheaderThe mixed-media mosaics of PS 209 Queens were created by the school’s 2nd and 5th grade students during their Materials for the Arts residency with Teaching Artist Joy Suarez. Students integrated their Social Studies units into the project, researching, planning, measuring, and collaborating in order to create maps of our country and portraits of our communities

storm systems | vadis turner (september – december 2013)

Storm Systems resembles paintings, but are actually made with fabric and ribbon donated by NYC’s fashion industries to MFTA. Vadis re-imagined gender roles, rites of passage and the classification of heirlooms in a contemporary cultural context. Her craft-based process synthesizes her mixed media palette with her painting background. She “paints” with layers of ribbon, dyed clothing, and hand-sewn textiles; the materials become marks, drips and washes. Her work highlights MFTA’s environmental impact and the value of reuse.


long forgotten song | ben pederson (may- august 2013)

Pederson created unique assemblages out of warehouse discoveries like discarded trophies, a lava lamp, AstroTurf, broken lampshades, and corrugated cardboard. Splashed with bright day-glow colors and surface textures, his work inspires artists, educators, students, and community members to see the creative potential in the world around them. Some of his pieces include intricate fabric weavings from old scraps and other works transform kitschy household objects like ketchup and mustard bottles and corn cob holders into artistic elements.


AprilStaffArtShowPleased to Meet You introduced the public to works created by the staff members who make the magic happen here every day at MFTA. Works for the show were made of the kinds of materials commonly found in our warehouse. Fabric, paper, beads, and more are present in the mixed-media art on display. Some of the artwork was by our professional teaching artists and some by staff exhibiting art for the first time.


P1060419For more than 30 years, Garrett has shown her artwork in museums and galleries up and down the East Coast. Her most recent work, exhibited at Gotham Center in May 2012 for the LIC Arts Open, transforms recyclables and plastic bags into sculptures inspired by Buddhist temples and ancient ruins. Ms. Garrett studied painting at the Rhode Island School of Design. She lives with her husband, the photographer William Garrett, and their three daughters in Long Island City.


The MFTA Gallery is generously funded by Rubin and Shelley Foundation
the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation