CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore has become more than just a source for used and surplus building materials. It’s become an important hub in Charleston’s thriving art community.
“I learned very early in my career at Habitat for Humanity that local artists supported the ReStore. Many of them are our best donors and customers. So we like to return the favor,” said ReStore director Amy McLaughlin.
On July 23, the business celebrated the installation of a permanent recycled paint department art display by artist Anthony Young. He is the first recipient of the ReDesign, Recycled Design Internship Award, a joint venture with Habitat for Humanity of Kanawha and Putnam ReStore and the West Virginia State University Department of Art.
“It’s challenged me to think outside the box and be experimental. The internship brings more awareness to art and an appreciation of art in an innovative way,” Young said.
Having Young as an artist-in-residence and intern has had a positive impact on the ReStore and the community, McLaughlin said.
“ReStore customers seem to enjoy watching Anthony work. Our regular donors and shoppers have watched him collect items and repurpose them, which I’m sure inspires them to be creative too. ReStore staff and volunteers have really enjoyed working with Anthony. He is fun to have around and it is fascinating to watch him work.
“But, most importantly, Anthony has used his artistic abilities to help communicate the mission of ReStore and Habitat for Humanity. His art depicts the families we serve and the product we produce — houses — and he uses ReStore materials — donated used building materials — as a medium,” McLaughlin said.
She sees firsthand that interest in art in the Charleston community is growing. The ReStore hosts the Charleston Art Group every Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The purpose of the open studio hours is to provide artists with a time and space to create art, get inspiration and socialize with other local artists.
“We truly see the ReStore as a community center. People come here to donate, shop, recycle, attend classes and workshops and participate in fun initiatives. Art is a huge part of our community, a part that makes us unique and celebrates our creativity. That alone is worth supporting,” McLaughlin said.
The ReStore director sees art and recycling as a natural collaboration. “I believe that linking art with recycling is an easy way for people to understand the importance of addressing our trash output. Green art promotes that idea that items should be recycled, reused and repurposed before being chucked into a landfill.
“Since a major part of ReStore’s mission is the diversion of materials from local landfills, the ReDesign internship is a perfect fit,” McLaughlin said.
For additional information about Habitat for Humanity’s Homeowner Education & Community Center, 815 Court St., call 304-720-8733, ext. 3, or visit hfhkp.org.
Reach Judy E. Hamilton at firstname.lastname@example.org, 304-348-1230 or follow @JudyEHamilton on Twitter.