SLCC Earth Day 2020: UpCycle Contest Winners


1st Place: Gnome Gardens

by Virginia Johnson



pink plastic animals with microgardens

2nd Place: Inspired by Nature

by Lori Warren



collage of upcycled materials in black frame

3rd Place: Plastic Affecting Animals

by Bradford Stockman



Student Vote: Plastic Ocean

by Alex Pistorius



two jellyfish and the ocean floor made from Plastic

SLCC Earth Day 2020 aims to raise awareness and promote action around environmental issues affecting our local Salt Lake City community, the state of Utah, and the planet. The theme this year is Climate Action! Upcycling is “the act of taking something no longer in use and giving it a second life and new function. In doing so, the finished product often becomes more practical, valuable and beautiful than what it previously was.” The following artists use their creativity to showcase Climate Action! 

Join us for Earth Day 2020 by participating in environment-related activities. You can find ideas on Facebook and be entered to win a $50 Cotopaxi gift card by filling out a survey telling us about your participation.

Gallery of All Contest Entries

Lori Warren

Inspired by Nature

I am a self-taught mixed media artist. Instructor and designer. It’s the texture of life that inspires me to bring the everyday into my artwork. My 3D Mixed Media and Steampunk artwork feature a combination of collage, texture, and the use of repurposed materials and other found objects.

This art piece is a Mixed Media and Steampunk canvas featuring a combination of collage, texture, and assemblage. The art incorporates the use of original rubber stamp designs along with reuse items, repurposed materials and other found objects.

I started by applying a thick layer of texture paste on a flat panel canvas. I then adhered vintage music print, recycled industrial materials (like discarded car parts), various recycled objects, junk jewelry, and other materials. To finish, I painted the piece with acrylic paint.

When you look closely at the artwork, you will see flowers, wings, gears and more. This collection of objects represents the ever-changing climate and the impact it has on living things. I am an optimistic person, so it is a bright, positive piece full of texture, interest, and hope that points to a positive future.

Tammi Diaz

Upcycled Glass Art

My Name is Tammi, and on January 27,1995, I was in an auto/accident. As a result of the accident I received a traumatic brain injury and pelvic fracture. It was a real challenge to relearn how to feed myself, dress myself, and also learning how to walk. I was in the hospital for five weeks and therapy for six months. I believe that therapists can’t you relearn everything. I retained my brain how to do word search, sew, needlepoint with plastic canvas and many other things.

Life is more of a challenge now and I cannot do as much I use to do. The one thing I can do is art, sew, paint, make jewelry, etc it is very therapeutic so I do not have take as much medication.

I have really learned to appreciate life. I am proud of who I am. Life is a Gift.

Alex Pistorius

Plastic Ocean

This is my piece titled “Plastic Ocean” and it depicts two jellyfish and the ocean floor made out of plastic. When I heard of the Upcycle Art Contest I immediately thought of ongoing environmental issues related to garbage. The imagery of a turtle mistaking a plastic bag for a jellyfish meal entered my mind. I wanted to create this imagery in a sculpture to show what our harmful habits can do to wildlife. I wanted to show the innocent turtle’s perspective when it is seeking its next meal. The truth is that we are destroying our planet and the animals that were here before us. I hope my piece will inspire others to recycle and allow them to know of the severity of throwing away plastics and other materials that destroy ecosystems.

Elden Jenkins

Styrofoam Igloo

This art piece is an igloo made from Styrofoam packing boxes. I work at a health clinic, and every time we get a new shipment of vaccines, we get a bunch of these boxes to keep them cool. I understand how Styrofoam is a major waste product, and is popular in the ocean, So i decided to put them to use, and I am going to make a big cold box for food during the winter. I hope my example gives creative ideas to others about how they can take action for climate change as well.

Hana Ratcliffe

Cloth Curtain Collage

I’ve always loved creating and using any medium I could get my hands on. My goals have always been to create things that 1) had purpose 2) were sustainable 3) were beautiful to look at (a purpose of its own). When I heard about this contest I thought of the bag of scrap fabric I ordered from Clever Octopus and the fact that I desperately needed a curtain in my room and knew I had to sew a curtain collage out of this scrap cloth. I created a scene that pays homage to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina where I grew up. This piece inspires me to be sustainable, care for the earth, and be creative by using what I have. I hope it inspires others in similar ways!

Virginia Johnson

Gnome Gardens

This artwork was inspired by my son’s old bath toys. Many children’s toys that are played with in water eventually grow mildew in their interiors and have to be thrown away for the safety of the child. I thought it was such a pity that something he’d only been playing with for a short while had to be tossed aside so quickly. With a few cuts in the soft vinyl and some cleaner I was able to transform these toys into something new I made gnome gardens as a small homage to the folktales that I grew up reading. Folktales were often used to teach the rising generation about the world. They were instrumental in teaching about nature and the rewards that come with respecting it. When we treat the world with love and respect we are better able to appreciate the beauties that surround us. The materials used to create these sculptures are: vinyl toys, upcycled tissue paper, wire, tape, moss, and sculpey. Many of the items used were either onhand or purchased at Clever Octopus: Creative Reuse Center.

Bradford Stockman

Plastic Effecting Animals

This art piece features a Mallard duck, a Hawksbill sea turtle, and a California Sheephead fish. The Mallard has a zip tie that is in its beak and around its head. The Hawksbill has a grocery bag in its mouth. The California Sheephead has plastic rings around its tail. The ocean is made of egg cartons on top, with the sides and bottom being a cardboard box supported by cardboard rolls and painted with blue and green paint. The Mallard is made of cardboard, an A&W box makes the body, a 7-up can is the head, and a piece of a Bundaberg Ginger Ale box is the beak. The Hawksbill is made of cardboard, with grocery bags and pieces of an A&W box making up the skin, a bubble wrap envelope with an A&W box and A&W cans make the shell, and a Le Croix can with A&W box pieces makes the head. The California Sheephead is made of cardboard, Dr. Pepper cans, and Monster cans. Everything is held together with hot glue.

All the ideas of how plastic is affecting the creatures shown came from actual pictures of animals being affected in these ways. Plastic is a very convenient material that is easily produced, but it is time that we think of how this affects all of us. By removing animals prematurely from their environment, we are all affected in ways we cannot even imagine. By making the plastic, we contribute to the climate conditions that we are currently experiencing. Now is the time to make a difference.

Cole Horrocks

Self-Watering Planter

This piece is a very simple, yet significant display. This is a self-watering planter, made solely from recycled water bottles and string. It is made by cutting a water bottle in half, putting a hole in the lid and threading a piece of string (or anything that absorbs water) through it. You then flip the lid upside down and place it in the bottom of the water bottle that is filled with water. Half of the string is in contact with the water, and the other half of the string is buried in the soil in which the plant sits in in the top half. This piece represents love for the Earth. The Earth is our home, and we need to treat it as such. By reducing our plastic waste, we reduce air and water pollution and help the ecosystems thrive. By taking this water bottle and recycling it, we give new life that benefits not only us but all of planet Earth as well. It is important to recognize the simple ways we can make a difference in reducing our waste, and helping to protect the planet we reside on.

Dave Halterman

Toy Guitar

During quarantine, my son always asks what he can play with since he can’t play with friends. Lately, we have been going on walks and teaching him about how littering is bad for the earth. We decided to make a toy guitar out of recycled materials. It is made out of cardboard, straws, and fishing line; all recycled materials and all things that we see on the ground while we are on our walks. My son has been an inspiration about littering. My family has been involved in the highway cleanup program for years. We love to keep our planet clean!

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