WESTBROOK, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- For the past year and a half, contractors have been sifting through tons of waste left over from Ecomaine's trash to energy incinerator, salvaging the valuable metals buried for decades in an ash landfill.
The metal that is uncovered often is rusted and twisted, barely recognizable items from days gone by, which is separated from the ash and shipped off to be recycled, but now some of it has been given a new lease on life.
"I began thinking it would be really nice if we could do something artistic which would sort of highlight what we are doing here," explained Tom Raymond, Ecomaine's ash landfill manager.
"I'm not an artist, but some of these kinds of things I can look at and say, yeah, there's a duck there," he chuckled. "When you look at something like this pile, there is more in it than just a bunch of rusted twisted metal that you see there."
University of Southern Maine art professor, Michael Shaugnessy, was brought in to see if he was interested in having his students recycle some of this scrap into a sculpture.
"You just pull out something and you think, wow, this is beautiful," said Shaugnessy. "It is a fascinating thing that we are actually mining our own pasts."
Shaugnessy decided to challenge his students to see if they could work together to create a public art installation using this very unusual medium.
"I was fascinated with those materials," stated student, Virginia Jarvi. "We loved the bed springs. We loved certain artifacts. We loved some scrap. We loved some pipe and the shapes of it."
"What I like about sculpture, and art in in general, is that everybody can take something different out of it," explained Dylan Rohman, who worked on the project with Jarvi and another student, Chris Perkins.
"I try a lot of different things, and I'm trying to take opportunities like this," added Rohman.
"It is kind of pretty," he said with a laugh.
"It is not identifiable," Jarvi explained about the sculpture. "It is not like we are going to make a giant giraffe out of scrap metal that everyone can say, oh that's a giraffe."
"It is an idea," she added. "It is part of a larger conversation which is reclaiming materials, repurposing them, seeing beauty in something that other people might think is trash."
Raymond says the art installation, which now welcomes visitors to the ash landfill, has grown on the people who work there.
"When I look at that, you know, there is something to that," he said. "I can't tell you exactly what it is, but there is something to that."
He enjoys seeing all the old items up close - the lobster traps, flatware and plenty of bed springs - that together make up the components of the fifteen foot tall sculpture.
"It is random, but it's art," he said.
The sculpture sits near the Ecomaine ash landfill entrance, and the public is invited to check it out for themselves. Because the landfill is a buzz with truck traffic hauling scrap and waste to and from, Raymond advises people to contact Ecomaine at 207-773-1738 to set up a time to come and see the art installation.