It feels good to throw something away. But then it has to be dealt with. The Stranger
Artists have used trash forever, but in a new Seattle residency, the dump is actually their studio.
This dump has only been in South Seattle for two years. It's nicknamed "The Murph," because it's called MRF, or Machine Recycling Facility. It's owned by Recology CleanScapes, a recycling company that is based—and has a great artist residency program—in San Francisco. When Recology Cleanscapes expanded to Seattle in 2014, it started supporting artists here, too, on site at its 75,000-square-foot facility.
Dakota Gearhart and Alexander Keyes were the recent artists chosen. Their work was only up for a night, in Flutter Studios, in Pioneer Square, because of venue logistics. But the program continues. A residency includes three months at the MRF with space to work, a stipend, and an exhibition.
What Gearhart and Keyes didn't expect is how inspiring an experience it would be just spending time in the MRF.
It's the place that receives and manages much of our recycling throughout King County.
"There are 50-foot tall piles of garbage and recycling," Keyes said, sounding like a kid recalling a dream.
"You can get so caught up in looking in there," Gearhart echoed, dreamily, too. "It has a beautiful paint job inside. Bright colors. There are so many vantage points—you climb up these staircases and look out over bulldozers shoving trash up these hills and the bulldozers are almost tipping over. You can open up peep holes and watch these things shoot out cans. There are magnets sorting. Huge piles of dust, dust piles huge like you've never seen. And you think, like, this is the plan?"
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