Center Recycles Material for Art and Housing
As part of its current building conservation project, the Yale Center for British Art is replacing old linen and plywood panels. Instead of just disposing of these materials once used in the display of masterpieces, including paintings by Turner, Constable, and Canaletto, the Center will upcycle them for the creation of paintings and homes for people in need. With sustainability goals in mind, the Center has donated what would have otherwise been waste products from the refurbishment of its public galleries to the Yale School of Art and Habitat for Humanity.
Deputy Director Constance Clement, who is overseeing the building conservation project for the Center, is working with the construction team to identify such transformative opportunities. When the Center’s Belgian linen needed to be replaced from years of use, Clement thought of the Yale School of Art, recalling they had accepted a linen donation in 1998, when the Center renovated its roof and last refurbished its galleries.
“I remembered that the graduate students in the painting program were thrilled to be working with linen of such great quality. So, it made sense to see if the School of Art might be interested in having linen from our current building conservation project,” remarked Clement.
This year, more than fourteen thousand square feet of linen has been removed from the Center’s fourth-floor galleries and donated to the Yale School of Art’s paintings department. “Linen is a prized surface by many painters and it is a tremendous gift for the students,” said Associate Dean Sam Messer. The department plans to slowly distribute portions of the linen to student painters as needed.
“The linen is, in my opinion, beautiful in color,” said Maria de Los Angeles (Yale MFA 2015), one of the school’s painting and printmaking students. She is currently using the linen to create an image about different kinds of labor, such as working in a restaurant, cleaning, or being a museum guard (an example of a similar work appears above).
The Center donated 120 sheets of plywood to the Hartford Area Habitat for Humanity, at the suggestion of Roy Stainton, General Foreman at Partitions Inc., who is working on the project for the Center. According to the organization’s most recent annual report, ten families received new homes from 2012 to 2013.
The widely known charitable home-building organization will use the wood from the Center during the construction phase as sheeting on the exterior of homes during the framing process. Habitat will also use the wood as backdrops for merchandise on sale, to raise money to build future homes, at a Habitat for Humanity “ReStore” in Bloomfield, Connecticut. ReStores are home improvement and donation centers that sell new and gently used items to raise money for the organization, according to Bob Cassello, Director of Construction, Hartford Area Habitat for Humanity.
“The use of this generous donation will bring us cost savings, as we would typically have to purchase plywood for these purposes,” said Cassello.
The Center has a long history of supporting Yale’s sustainability plan, including donating furniture to the Connecticut State Police Museum, adding public bike racks, and replacing chemical cleaners with earth-friendly alternatives. It holds the second highest level of certification for workplace sustainability at Yale, runs its own Green Team, and counts its staff among Yale’s Sustainability Leaders.
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