Repurposing Waste to Create Art

An Arizona artist makes everything from clothes to sculptures from recycled materials.

When someone calls artist Nancy Judd’s clothes trashy, she takes it as a compliment.

The designer and former Santa Fe recycling coordinator makes fashion sculptures from recycled materials—from caution tape to old Obama campaign signs—then displays the cool attire at such high-traffic locations as an international airport or a museum. “Fashion is a nonthreatening way to engage people about environmental issues,” says Judd, who started her business, Recycle Runway, 14 years ago.

When Toyota and Audubon awarded her a TogetherGreen Fellowship, Judd was ecstatic. For three months, she worked with 125 sixth graders to create a superhero costume from old insulation materials made of recycled paper and other items related to saving energy.

Her aim: To teach the teens conservation lessons to bring home. “They are getting this other element in art class,” she says. “It makes energy efficiency [come] alive in a different context.”

This story ran in the July-August issue as “Fashion Model.”