GLEAN: to gather, collect bit by bit, or pick over in search of relevant material

Thank you to the artists who participated in this year’s GLEAN program—and to the community members who came out to show their support throughout the month of August. We are grateful so many people came out to be a part of this show exploring the way we think about waste.

GLEAN is a juried art program that taps into the creativity of artists from the Portland area to inspire people to think about their consumption habits, the waste they generate, and the resources they throw away. The five-month GLEAN program invites artists to push the boundaries of material exploration. With a $2,000 stipend to support their practice, and seemingly endless materials to work with, artists are encouraged to translate their existing studio practice with the challenge of making work with discovered discarded materials from the Portland Metro Transfer Station (aka, the “dump”). The program culminates in a formal exhibition in late summer where artists receive 80% commission from the sale of their art. GLEAN is sponsored by crackedpots, an environmental arts nonprofit; Metro, a regional government; and Recology, an employee-owned company that manages resource recovery facilities.


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What's a transfer station?

Up until the early 1990s, most regions around the country still had local “dumps” where the community’s waste was taken. Due to concerns about public health and the environment, as well as increasing regulations, most of these local landfills began to close.

As communities struggled to figure out what to do with their waste, large waste-management companies began construction of “mega-landfills” in remote locations, designed to accept waste from hundreds of miles away. This new system created a new challenge: How could waste picked up by small, local garbage trucks be transported over such long distances?

The solution was to build transfer stations where waste from local garbage haulers and citizens could be processed and reloaded onto long-haul trucks, freight trains, and in some instances, even barges. The Portland region’s waste is trucked 150 miles to the 2,000-acre Columbia Ridge Landfill in eastern Oregon. While we can be very proud of our high diversion rate, we still send more than a million tons of waste to landfills each year. Ouch.

That’s why crackedpots exists. By promoting creative reuse through our various programs, we aim to reduce the amount of waste that we as a community generate and send to that mega-landfill.