Trash is a part of our society that is largely removed from the public eye. Dumpsters and trash cans are hidden in alleys or are only allowed on the street during pick-up times. And when these receptacles are in public areas, they are primarily painted black or some other plain color as to de-emphasize their intrusion into public space by fading into the background. As trash is often considered unsightly—a part of society that we are not proud of, it makes sense that most Americans want to minimize its presence in the public realm.
However, in Durango, Colorado, the non-profit Dumpster Beautification Project (DBP) has created a new perspective on these waste receptacles—bringing them out of the shadows and into the spotlight. Championed by Debra Greenblatt, a local artist and also the director and founder of the DBP, the Dumpster Beautification Project aims to bring art to unexpected places—namely the Waste Corporation America (WCA) dumpsters used throughout Durango. Any individual, group, or youth organization can volunteer to paint a dumpster. Likewise, any business or private entity with a WCA dumpster can volunteer to have the dumpster painted. Debra works to pair the volunteer painters with businesses that want to have their dumpsters’ painted. Donations and grant money provide funds for paint, brushes, and the other supplies needed for dumpster painting.
DHM Design’s Durango office found out about DBP in May of 2014. In the following August, the Durango office volunteered to paint a Bear Safety-themed dumpster at the Edgemont Ranch Picnic Grounds. The dumpster mural attempts to make picnic grounds’ visitors more conscientious about using the dumpster’s bear locks.
The Dumpster Beautification Project is great because it takes the mundane and makes a new canvas for expression; dumpsters that do not hide in the shadows, but shine in the spotlight.
Trash is not beautiful, but is a necessary part of life that does not need to remain hidden, especially if dumpsters can be used as a platform for artwork.