The annual Rethink Recycling Sculpture Contest, sponsored by Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), asks students to make something beautiful out of items that would otherwise be discarded. This year, three Carroll County students were named winners.
Jorja Rodgers, a junior at Century High School, won the grand prize for 2019.
Her sculpture at first appears to be a pile of random items such as paper towel rolls, trophies, CDs and toys. But when a light shines on it at the right angle, it shines the silhouette of the late singer Selena Quintanilla.
Rodgers said, “I had seen other artists do projecting images. And I thought that was really cool because it’s not really a traditional way of going about something.”
She was interested in Quintanilla’s music and life story, and thought the performer’s outfits and stances are iconic enough to be recognizable even in silhouette.
To shine a light on what looks like a pile of junk and have it reveal something beautiful, “I thought really embodied the idea of using trash for art,” Rodgers said.
Alex Vagnier, a junior at Winters Mill High School, won first place for the Use of Materials award with his sculpture, entitled “IDK.” He used PCs, a lamp, a light switch, plexiglass, bottle caps and a waffle iron as materials.
Emily Giffhorn, a senior at South Carroll High School, placed second for the People’s Choice Award for her sculpture, entitled “Turtley Awesome.” Her sculpture was created using aluminum cans, twine, cardboard tubes, mesh material, yarn, straws, cardboard and a granite slab.
Century High art teacher Nicole Diem said in the release, “We have participated in the Rethink Recycle Contest since 2003, and each year the students’ work gets better and more creative.”
Rodgers said she created her sculpture this semester during an honors mixed media class. Sculpting was a new skill for Rodgers, and she hopes to continue trying new mediums in her art classes.
She said, “I would like to get into painting and colored pencils and other things that I didn’t really get a chance to try yet, because I think that the more different types of mediums that I get to use, the more I can create new things and kind of combine them to make something not as traditional, which I think it’s more interesting.”
The whole process took two to three weeks, and the high school then displayed all of the students’ work in the media center so staff could vote for the top three to move on to the state competition. The school threw a “junk food party” to announce the winners.
Rodgers said she enjoyed the experience of traveling to Baltimore for the state awards ceremony and meeting MDE officials as well as fellow student artists from all over the state.
This is not the first year a Carroll student has taken home prizes for the Rethink Recycling contest. Last year, South Carroll High student Mary Garrison took home Best in Show and Century student Adrianna Wood won People’s Choice. And many other winners have hailed from Carroll over the years.
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The Rethink Recycling Sculpture Contest is one of the ways that MDE celebrates America Recycles Day annually. High school students from across Maryland were invited to participate by creating sculptures made of recycled and reusable materials.