DNR to unveil river trash art on Earth Day


In summer 2010, Project AWARE volunteers pulled 18,551 pounds from Iowas waters during the weeklong event. Now, some of that trash has been turned into art. Photo via U of I State Hygienic Laboratory.

One Iowan’s trash is another’s artistic expression. Or something like that.

That will be the case on April 22 when the DNR unveils new artwork fashioned from river trash – an effort that is part of a multi-year project known as “The River Gates of Project AWARE,” which promotes environmental stewardship.

The sculptures are made from trash dredged from the East and West Nishnabotna rivers last July by hundreds of participants in the DNR’s annual Project AWARE river cleanup event. They will later serve as security gates for the Natural Resources building at the fairgrounds.

On Earth Day, the artwork will be on public display  from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Wallace State Office Building in Des Moines.

Artist David Williamson and DNR staff will be available during this time to greet visitors, answer questions and share their Project AWARE experiences. Visitors are encouraged to share input with Williamson on the design and placement of future art, like the wrought iron oak leaves he has hammered from fuel tanks salvaged from Iowa’s riverbanks.

“The participants are the architects,” Williamson said. “I’m just the guy with the hammer and the nails.”

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