The Art of Recycling


By: Concha Wilkinson

Creativity has always been a way of life for me. It just comes naturally and seems to be a guiding force in my life. Whether drawing, painting or sewing, it’s what makes my heart sing.  A career in art started for me as a fashion illustrator.  I spent years illustrating for newspaper ads for Belk department stores in Charlotte and eventually took on free lance jobs for illustration and design. Like everything else in life, art seems to evolve and go through cycles. Eventually this kind of work no longer satisfied my creative urge, it simply became a mundane job.
Not knowing which direction I wanted to go with art, I stepped away from it for a while. When I moved to Asheville almost 20 years ago, I was barely painting at all. I spent as much time as I could out in Nature, which eventually brought me back to painting. As I hiked through woods, and waded through streams, the awesome sight of light filtering through trees became my inspiration.  Everything was art. I realized how Nature paints itself everywhere with its spectacular array of colors and shapes. And so I began to paint again, yet not in the same way as I once did. Painting and creating were now a spiritual expression for me. I was no longer separate from my art. I was the art as well as the artist.
I began making three dimensional objects into art by painting and embellishing them with found objects. As Art can take many forms, I’ve experimented for many years with various media including watercolors, oils, acrylics and pastels.  But there’s something about mixed media that fascinates me. Combining old or discarded objects that are no longer useable to create a piece of art is like watching something being born.
Such things as leaves and acorns or twigs began to fill my studio. Eventually bottle caps, cans lids and old vases from thrift stores joined the collection along with broken jewelry which I couldn’t bear to part with. Crumpled foil paper and pages of outdated magazines with their glossy, colorful pages began stacking up on my studio shelves. I began asking my friends to save bottles, can lids and more. And so the “Art” of Recycling was born!  It seems the more I create, the more things I find that can be used for this three- dimensional art. Recycle bins and thrift stores often contain items that become little treasures for me as I never know where they will be used or how they will contribute to the overall piece of art. It’s a humbling reminder for me: as in art, so it is in life.  We never know what we can become.



In addition to being a full time artist, Concha teaches the ‘ART’ OF RECYCLING art and craft classes and workshops—finely crafted art using recycled materials. These classes promote self expression, finding your inner artist, and the simple joy of creating.

For more information on classes / workshop schedules and fees, visit or call 828 273-1375.  Her work can also be seen in Mountain Made in the Grove arcade.


Sandi Tomlin-Sutker
Written by Sandi Tomlin-Sutker