Artist Suprina Troche wants your trash — a lot of it.
The City of Poughkeepsie resident has a knack for turning waste into sculpture and now she is on a mission to get everyone who lives in Dutchess County involved in a public art project that packs a message.
And she’s using a city sanitation truck to deliver her message.
Clockwise from top right: Tamar Towne, Dylan Scott, Aiyssa Tirado and Taaliyah Clemmons help paint the city garbage truck for the “We’re All In This Together” public art project. (Photo: Melissa Gagliardi/Courtesy photo)
The artist is collecting trash to create a public art sculpture that will be a part of a future development in the city. The project is called “We’re All In This Together.”
“The sculpture is about our waste, our consumption, and what, and how, we throw away what we deem valueless,” said Suprina, who goes by the singular name as an artist.
For the project, Suprina is teaming up with a non-profit organization, an architectural firm with a mission of sustainability that is choosing to go unidentified. Suprina said the public art installation is slated to be completed by the end of 2020.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average American produces almost five pounds of trash a day, amounting to nearly 268 million tons total for the year 2017.
A garbage truck might be the last thing you’d expect to see in a parade, but the oldest vehicle in the city’s fleet has gotten a new life. Suprina enlisted local students to paint the vehicle in viv floral designs with the slogans, “PoughKeepit Clean: Go Green” and “We’re All In This Together,” painted on its sides. The truck will be a featured attraction in this year’s Celebration of Lights parade in the city on Friday.
Suprina will be handing out cards along the parade route that describe what type of trash she is looking for, such as plastic bags, bottles and straws; cans; CDs; wrapping paper and bows; electrical wires and keyboards, among other items (a complete list can be found on her website, suprinasculpture.com) and where to drop it all off (the city transfer station at 26 Howard St. and Adriance Memorial Library, 93 Market St., Poughkeepsie).
She’s hoping people will respond when seeing the painted truck go by in their neighborhoods by taking a picture or selfie with it and posting it with the hashtag “#Poughkeepitclean.”
Suprina debuted the project idea during the city’s Open Studios weekend in June, in which she took part, and started to look for a venue to collect the trash.
“That was a big challenge,” she said. “The best thought was at the transfer station and so we started to collect it there.”
She then pitched the idea to the city’s Public Arts Commission and board member Tom Lawrence, who is director of the Poughkeepsie Public Library District, offered the library as a second drop-off location, for its easy access and more hours of availability.
“Essentially, I think that anything that promotes the arts and enhances the quality of life for library district residents is a good fit for us,” Lawrence said. “As we continue to engage with our residents, we continually see opportunities to work for them, sometimes out of the box, and we are all winners. Poughkeepsie (city and town), like any other community, needs to pull together to make our lives better in any way we can. It just makes sense to work together.”
Suprina said she has received a good response with collections from the library drop-off.
“I’ve had to go sometimes twice a week to unload from them,” she said. “This is an amazing collaboration, and the transfer station has given me a place that is dry.”
And that’s where the garbage truck came in.
“Jeff Aman (chairman) on the commission was also at the meeting and he said, ‘Why don’t you do some promotional event for your public art project?’ Don’t ask from there how I decided I wanted to paint a garbage truck,” Suprina said, but she did, and plans on having a train of trash trailing behind the truck, like a honeymoon couple’s car, during the parade.
An artist and activist for the arts, Aman said he believes the arts are playing a significant role in the revitalization of the City of Poughkeepsie.
“(The arts) are improving the Main Street Corridor, bringing people back into our downtown area and raising the overall energy level,” he said. “The arts must also play a much larger role in the City of Poughkeepsie public school district as a means of building stronger connections between the students and their schools, which has been proven in other areas as a factor in higher graduation rates. And exposure to more art forms can be a pathway to many career opportunities for our talented young people.”
Aman presented the idea to Mayor Rob Rolison, who agreed to let her paint a truck, but only on the weekends, as the truck would be used by the city during the week.
“This unique beautification project is somehow fitting,” Rolison said. “This sanitation truck helps to keep our city clean. And now the truck itself is an example of beautification, a showpiece designed to get people talking. The simple message on the truck — ‘We’re All In This Together’ — is so true, and it’s how we feel about the city.”
Aman said having student artists work on the truck is “wonderful,” and hopefully will inspire “the next generation of activists for the arts and the environment.
“Suprina is an artist quite capable of inspiring others through her sculptures made of found objects that do not belong in a landfill,” he said.
And that’s where the students came in.
Suprina networked with Holly McCabe, assistant professor of Visual Arts at Dutchess Community College, who got her students involved in the project.
“It took three weekends to paint,” said Suprina, whose first job after graduating from the Philadelphia College of Art as a sculptor was creating props for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
“All of the students that helped were mature and came on time,” she said. “We worked all day long, and they were so focused and into the project. I was very impressed with the caliber of students.”
Suprina said she applied for city funding for artists who work with youth to help offset her costs for paint and other supplies.
Student helpers include DCC students Brittney Stewart, Cy Hinojosa, Taaliyah Clemmons, Aiyssa Tirado and Dylan Scott; DCC graduate Tamar Towne; and Roy C. Ketcham High student Ryan Garcia. DCC graduate Melissa Gagliardi is filming a documentary on the project. Adult friends and artists pitched in as well to help with the painting.
Suprina said the painted sanitation truck is designed to be “family friendly and make people smile.
“The drivers and the people who pick up our trash have pride in their work and I want to create a relationship between the people on the street and the people who do the work,” she said. “The key for us is empathy — we are all in this together.”
Barbara Gallo Farrell: email@example.com; 845-437-4979; Twitter: @PJBarb
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