Recycle Runway Blog

Recycle Runway Lands in the Atlanta Airport! Published: 05.10.2011 at 11:20 am by Nancy Judd

Recycle Runway Exhibition in the Atlanta Airport

The dust has settled from my two week adventure in Atlanta installing the Recycle Runway exhibition, “waste does not exist, only wasted resources.” I have returned, finished up some minor details and gotten some well needed rest.

After three years of preparations, eighteen of my recycled fashion designs are now on display in nine cases throughout International Concourse E. To access Concourse E take the “Plane Train” (AKA the Concourse Shuttle) or just walk from any one of the concourses or the main terminal. (Note to Atlanta residents: Concourse E is on the secure side of the airport, so you will need a ticket to get there.)

I started the first week with a presentation on resources to some students at the International School in Atlanta sponsored by Novelis. Whenever I go somewhere to install an exhibition or make a new garment I like to give school presentations and working with kids is always a thrill – their minds are so fresh and innovative I always end up learning from them.

Introducing the Environmental Steward-ess to my sponsors, Frank and Aaron from Delta Air Lines!

On Wednesday we held a big launch party for my show at a sustainable furniture company called “Environment”. I had arranged a number of my garments, including Delta’s new Environmental Steward-ess, amid the furniture made from reclaimed, recycled, and sustainably harvested wood, so all night guests were weaving in and out of the display – truly a visually interesting mix! Approximately 50 people turned up including the press, some of my sponsors, local designers and artists, community environmental activists and even a few friends. But the best part of all was finally meeting some of the people that are sponsoring this exhibition and supporting my work.

I spent the rest of first week meeting Katherine and David from the Airport Art program, settling preliminaries like which size and style of pedestals to use in the airport art cases, and returning in the evenings to my vacation rental to prepare and eat the chard I had smuggled on the plane. For those of you who are interested, chard travels well.

Transporting the Dresses Through the Concourse

I had no idea what I had really signed up for in the second week when we finally began installing the show! Nothing can prepare you for working in an airport. It is so very different from being in one for travel only. You really have no idea how dazed people are in new, large and busy surroundings, trying to keep track of their luggage and keep their families together. I felt as though I got a fresh peek at what I must look like traveling thither and yon.

I had agreed to do the installation between 7 PM and 4 AM so we came in for work while the airport was still hopping and within the next couple of hours would begin winding down for the day. Yes, the

Floor Polishing Equipment

Floor Polishing Equipment

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport actually closes down somewhere between 11 and midnight and the empty halls begin to fill will all kinds of cleaning apparatus and work relations banter. Imagine the number of night staff you have to have to maintain the busiest airport in the world!

Inside the halls of Concourse E Katherine and David trekked vast distances from case to case, applying vinyl lettering and information placards while I and the fourth member of our team, Nicole, spent hours and hours locked in a windowless room filled with my dress forms and garments and a wide variety of other art installation materials. It began to get a little surreal as I unboxed the pieces and prepped the garments for their “in case” debut but I was eventually grateful that I couldn’t really tell what time it was and I was so busy I didn’t care. Our little team was actually fighting to get the installation done within the time we were given – 3 nights.

David and Katherine Applying the Vinyl Exhibition Titles

Applying the Vinyl Exhibition Titles

The amazing and very sweet compliments of the night staff kept us going as we pushed dollies full of dresses throughout the concourse. Bleary eyed we’d exit every morning at 5 AM heading back home to sleep, eat and take a nap before doing it all over again. We squeezed every last minute out of our allotted time and in the end everything just fell together. It was a truly inspiring piece of team work and I am so thankful to all those that helped!

This exhibition would not be possible without the support of my case sponsors: Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, Janome, and Novelis and my Green Partners:, the Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Georgia Recycling Coalition, Keep America Beautiful, Keep Georgia Beautiful, the Phoenix Airport Museum and the Turner Foundation. And of coarse thank you to my host, Atlanta’s Airport Art Program! It is such an honor to be part of their impressive group of permanent and rotating art exhibitions! If you have been through this airport before you are sure to have noticed all the great art…my favorite of the permanent collections are the Zimbabwe sculptures in the walkway between Concourse T and A.

Thus far the exhibition has received great press, in the last couple of weeks articles have appeared on the front pages of and I have received so many encouraging e-mails from all over the world!

Well, as mentioned, I did have a few details to iron out when I got home. There is a short video presentation on the show and my work that CNN will run throughout the airport for the entire year the pieces are on display but we have had a hard time finding the requested digibeta tape. RESOURCE RE-THOUGHT Number 1 – The terrible earthquake and tsunami from March 11 that devastated Japan has also taken its toll on many of the electronic resources for the entire world. The reason that the digibeta tape has been so hard to get is that most of the manufacturing of these tapes is done in Japan. Where do your resources come from?

See more photos of the exhibition installation on my facebook page.

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