Created with cut and sewn stuffed animals, this series, titled Recycled Memories, depicts how discarded objects can be disassembled and reimagined. All of the stuffed animals used in this piece are pre-owned. Some of them were purchased from thrift stores, though most of them were generously donated to me by classmates, professors, friends, and total strangers. Each stuffed animal is emptied of any stuffing, cut into various pieces, and sewn together next to pieces of the others. I wanted to demonstrate how, through a bit of effort, we can reduce waste by giving unwanted objects new lives. Through this process, these objects are given completely different meanings.
For many, stuffed animals serve as our first possessions, but also our first friends. We are able to manipulate them in any way we choose, and yet they give us comfort when we need it. Regardless of where these objects end up, they inevitably contribute to their owners’ past, present, and future lives. As we grow out of those attachments, we are able to reimagine the possibilities and create something new with them.
Despite the important role they play in our early lives, there seems to be an endless supply of unwanted stuffed animals that continue to pile up in thrift stores. This, in addition to the meaning we attach to them, is why I choose to use stuffed animals. Many may see a dirty plush toy, but I see affordable and unclaimed materials: fur, stuffing, buttons, plastic eyes. Allowing them to just sit on shelves seems like such a waste.
The real meaning behind my work developed as I was creating the first piece of the series. Initially, I intended to simply give these objects a new purpose. I saw them as emotionless objects with no meaning. Although, as I began the process of creating this series, I gradually began to see the small details that showed the love they had received in their previous homes: names written on tags, patched holes, frayed seams, and muddied white fur from overuse. I’ve come to realize that these aren’t objects that I can cut up with no thought, they were someone’s memories.
I decided to reimagine these objects as clothing pieces that envelop the wearer and give a sense of protection and comfort. The weight and size of the pieces affect the wearer’s interaction with the world. Security Blanket represents how we are able to take our childhood experiences, change them, and carry them with us throughout life.