Hopes and Dreams Upcycled Books on Display

By Carol Royer, Lower School Art Faculty

Have you heard of “upcycling”? How is it different from recycling, and what makes it so unique?

Art can be made out of many things, including discarded materials and objects others would consider trash. When we take an object out of its first context, and create a brand new purpose and appearance for it, it has been upcycled. Upcycled art is creative work that’s made from discarded materials that once had another purpose. This includes anything from old plastic toys and vehicle tires to scraps of cloth or building supplies.

This upcycled book project engaged students in first through fifth grades as our Hopes and Dreams themed lesson this year. Students took a donated book and transformed it into a sketchbook, journal, or artist’s book. Some chose to keep the original pages of the book, transforming them with paint or collage materials. Others replaced the pages with white paper to begin sketching and drawing in. Students will hold onto these books for the school year, transforming them further.

The theme of “Hopes and Dreams” helped focus the imagery for the book covers. You might think of these books as a kind of self-portrait, with the student’s interests and hopes for their future telling a story about who they are. As you can see, the students have a wide variety of approaches and images, depicting everything from time travel, ocean life, exotic locales, or astronaut adventures.

A few weeks back, I was visiting the Martin Library in downtown York. I noticed that they had a flyer in the library asking for submissions for Altered Books. Without being sure that a school project would be acceptable for their exhibit, I brought about 60 books with me over to the library on a Thursday evening. We looked over each one carefully, and from those, 15 were chosen.  Since a few of the classes had not had art as frequently as others by late September, the submissions were limited to those classes that had completed the project in time. See the display at Martin Library in York through November 26. 

It’s exciting to share the books with a new audience and have them on display in a new venue. All the books are now on display on either the Art display wall or at the Martin Library. Congratulations to all our talented artists!