Recycling Culture: Exhibit Opens

Phone wire bowlThe Wake Forest University Museum of Anthropology exhibit, “RE-NEWING: Recycling in a Shrinking World,” looks at how cultures recycle artifacts from other cultures to make new creations.

The exhibit runs Nov. 3 to March 20 and includes objects from the museum’s African, Asian, Native American and Pacific collections.

According to exhibit curator Beverlye Hancock, one form of recycling seen globally is “folk recycling,” the reworking of Western scrap into new products to meet local needs in non-industrial parts of the world. For example, scrap aluminum becomes jewelry or cooking utensils.

“The recycling of such objects requires innovative use of materials, forms, and production methods,” says Hancock, museum curator of education. “Folk recycling is an important economic strategy for survival in many marginalized communities,” she says.

Objects in the exhibit include tire tread sandals made by residents of northwest Mexico, African toys made from cans, and a Pacific Island lei fashioned from tuna can labels.

The exhibit also explores the West’s role in the recycling of materials, objects and ideas from other cultures and their transformation into objects having new meaning and significance.

“Home dÈcor abounds with travel souvenirs that once were practical items of a culture’s daily life,” says Hancock. The exhibit includes some examples as well as clothing.

“Western fashions often reinterpret traditional cultures’ styles and symbolic designs,” she says. Among the items on display is a dress made in the United States that repeats the traditional designs on a “mola” made in Central America.

“RE-NEWING: Recycling in a Shrinking World,” is part of the Year of Globalization and Diversity, a yearlong series of activities focused on the world’s development into a more global community. To learn more about the year, call 336-758-5788 or visit

The Museum of Anthropology is located behind Kentner Stadium on the Wake Forest University campus. Hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. For information, call 336-758-5237.

Categories: Arts & Culture, Events