No Trash, Just Art
by Jennifer Kwon

Those who frequently hang out in the Weitz Center for Creativity, either for classes or for extracurriculars, would have recently noticed that there is a huge, unfinished sculpture at the outdoors garden on the first floor. It is made by no other than our Randy Peck, one of the beloved custodial staff who has been working at Carleton College for the last 27 years, whose passion for recycling inspired him to construct a work of art, entirely out of abandoned “junk”.

Intended to be fifteen feet tall, the sculpture takes a form of a Kachina doll, made out of materials found in local and campus garbage cans. The head, which solely takes up nearly five feet, was originally an aluminum vent cover once used on the roof of a campus building. The rusty surface is no longer to be seen for it is painted with vibrant colors of paint, collected from the Rice County Recycling Center, by Peck’s father, Bob. Air pipes, donated by Carleton shop engineer Don Smith, are used as its arms while old drinking fountains serve as its feet.

A preliminary sketch of the sculpture by the artist. (provided by Randy Peck)

The sculpture is still very much in progress. Peck plans to add a pink cup cap as its belt buckle and little ribbon pins, that seem to be made for a cancer donation, as the fringes on its arms. Both were found in the trash on campus.

Peck has been working on the sculpture for the past two years but it is only recently that he received the support that it needs. Hudlin Wagner, Dean of Students, and Steve Richardson, Director of Arts, have been the biggest supporters of his project, encouraging him to continue and granting the sculpture a temporary location on campus for display. Three Carleton students, Yasir Hassan (15), Henri Sandiffer (15), and Sam Cattau (15), whom he all met when working at the Recreation Center, also volunteered to help finish the sculpture.

“I became interested in Randy’s Kachina doll project because it enables us to draw awareness to the environment in a unique way,” said Yasir Hassan, a senior religion major. “Part of our vision is, when members of our campus community see the sculpture, it will make them more conscious of the environment and encourage them to reuse unwanted or broken items in new and unique ways.”

Peck titled the sculpture as “the keeper of knowledge”, a name that is often used by the chiefs of Native American tribes, wishing the sculpture will instill awareness of material waste and alternative ways to reuse such thrown away garbage. He hopes it will act as “the teacher of recycling” and educate the students on the importance of reusing materials that they would have otherwise simply disposed in the trash.

“It was a commercial I saw when I was a child that sparked my interest in recycling,” Peck explained. “There was a Native American with the headdress looking out the earth and its pile of garbage, and he starts crying. That’s the why I feel now.”

This article was published at The Carletonian