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Look! It's Recycleman
By JAYSON JACOBY
Of the Baker City Herald
Ever seen a superhero with styrofoam eyes?
With arms made from a length of dryer vent and some aluminum foil?
With an iron pipe nose?
Well, Recycleman is hardly a conventional superhero.
His mission isnt to save beautiful damsels in distress, but the Earth itself.
And his arch-enemy isnt some villain with a maniacal cackle, bad skin and an alliterative name.
Recycleman fights laziness.
Laziness of the sort that makes people toss empty soda cans onto a highway shoulder instead of in a recycling bin.
Or haul their already read magazines and newspapers to the dump instead of the recycling center, where begins the process that transforms your old reading materials into new reading materials.
(And who knows maybe the new stories will be better than the old ones.)
Recycleman is the creation of the 17 students in Terri Axness art class at Baker High School.
They designed him. They came up with his name. They even wrote the song hell sing next week while hes on display at Phillips-Long Ford to commemorate National Recycling Awareness Week.
And on Wednesday afternoon the students glued, tied and otherwise affixed the final pieces of Recyclemans chaotic costume, every piece being, of course, recyclable.
For teen-agers who are more accustomed to drawing and painting, the assignment to assemble a 6-foot-tall superhero from cardboard and paper and old cans was both interesting and challenging.
I thought it was going to be pretty fun and pretty different, said freshman Jason Birmingham, who along with junior Travis Cook designed Recycleman. And it was.
The students started with a skeleton of scrap iron Axness brought from her ranch.
Students in a BHS welding class made sure the parts would stay in place.
Then Birmingham and Cook started doodling on a sketch pad.
The first step seemed obvious.
He was supposed to be a superhero, and superheroes always have a cape, Cook said.
Amy White, Josey Hilton and Benita Roeser, an exchange student from Germany, made the cape from a plastic bag and some shredded paper.
Because Recycleman in his earliest form lacked the muscle-laden brawn that distinguishes most superheroes from mere mortals, the students bulked him up with layers of newspapers and magazines.
His left arm juts out from his chest, the aluminum foil fingers pointing, as if he were gesturing perhaps to his home planet.
The right arm hangs behind the body, the hand clasping a sack of returnable pop cans.
Axness students learned about more than art while creating Recycleman.
They collected most of the raw material at Baker Sanitary Services recycling center at 12th and Campbell streets, and the students also researched recycling statistics for Baker County and the rest of the state.
The students were surprised.
I didnt think that many people recycled, Cook said.
Like several other students, Hilton said she recycles some materials at home. She also said the high school staff strongly encourages recycling by setting out bins for a variety of reusable stuff.
But this is an art class, and Axness said she wants her students to apply the skills theyve learned, however unusual, to other more conventional projects.
I wanted them to work in three dimensions, said Axness, a former Churchill teacher who is in her first year at the high school. Were going to be starting figure-drawing soon, and I think this is a good lead-in for them when they try to capture a three-dimensional figure on a two-dimensional surface.
Axness said her students also had an experience thats rare in art classes: working together.
Normally we work individually, and artists have many different ideas about how things should be done, she said. It was interesting to listen to (the students) talk about how they were going to do something.
Oh, and in case you dont see Recycleman in the flesh (or whatever), heres that little ditty he sings:
I am Recyleman/Look at my feet they are tin cans/Please avoid that garbage can/Better to support the recycle plan.