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Mixed media artist Andrew Corke takes second Best of Show in four months

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Rejectamenta opened at the Alliance for the Arts on Friday night. Juried and judged by FGCU art professor Mary Voytek, the show contains 62 artworks pieced together from repurposed and upcycled materials such as metal, wood and computer mother boards. Best of Show honors went to 2012 Florida Gulf Coast University art grad Andrew Corke for Death Owl, a sculptural wall-hanging made from old bicycle tires.

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Death Owl is the latest from a series that Corke calls Reanimations. "The materials are an important aspect of my work," reveals Corke, who was also awarded Best of Show at the Southwest Florida Fine Craft Guild's all-member show, Dimensions In Art, which was held in September at The von Liebig Art Center in Naples.

"By making the works three-dimensional and out of recycled waste, I hope to invoke the feel that these creatures are being reanimated from the trash, reaching out and toward the viewer."

This is precisely the effect Corke accomplishes with dynamic works like Tired of Drying, Good Year Gorilla and Pride in the Leader. The latter incorporates both bicycle tires and wine bottle corks. This piece portrays a wild-eyed, roaring lion that seems to emerge from its support as if it's being reconstituted before the viewer's very eyes from a bubbling, roiling, multi-colored biological soup.

From across a gallery or room, Corke's process is not readily apparent. It's only when viewers inch closer to examine his works that they discover they incorporate materials otherwise bound for a landfill. To create works like Death Owl, Corke first builds a skeleton or superstructure out of wire or foam. Gaps are stuffed with wadded up newspaper, and then Corke begins the painstaking process of crafting each creature's skin through the application of layers of recycled material, using acrylic for the eyes, beak and talons.

Corke's process is time-consuming. Death Owl took over three months to make. But Corke feels that the painstaking work is well worth the gargantuan effort. "We live on a planet that has a limited number of resources," he observes. "These resources won't be around forever. Neither will animals or humans for that matter. By using what we already have as wisely as possible, by reducing what we use, reusing and recycling, I am confident that we can give the place in which we live new life."

Corke's creative philosophy reflects the influence of growing up in Sanibel Island next door to Ding Darling. There, Corke became imbued with a sensibility for issues such as habitat loss, global climate change and over-consumption. Corke also benefits from the groundbreaking work done by Captiva icon Robert Rauschenberg, who began making collages in 1952 out of strips of cardboard saved from laundered shirts and whose later combines often included taxidermy specimens.

Today, Corke works as a studio assistant for one of Rauschenberg's gifted proteges, internationally-acclaimed transfer solvent print artist Darryl Pottorf.

Rejectamenta will be on display at the Alliance for the Arts through December 28. The exhibit's sponsor is Covanta Energy, one of the world’s largest owners and operators of infrastructure for the conversion of waste-to energy. For more information, please call 239-939-2787.

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