Junk Culture: C. Finley’s Wallpapered Dumpsters


Devotees of divine dumpsters should take a page from C.Finley’s book before just diving in. The Rome-based Dumpster Diva blends environmental activism with unexpected beauty by wallpapering dumpsters and other outdoor trash bins. The results are definitely worth noticing; which is something new for dumpsters these days!

Cleaning Up the City

(image via: Wallpapered Dumpsters)

“If we see dumpsters as works of art, we have raised consciousness,” states C (for Christine) Finley. The concept of seeing dumpsters in itself is also at the heart of Finley’s mission: dumpsters not only hold waste, they disguise it from the passing crowds. That’s good, of course, but instead of tuning out their existence we should instead consider the exorbitant amounts trash we generate while constantly filling these dumpsters.

(images via: Inhabitat and The ReNOUNed Nest)

The 35-year-old, Missouri-born artist has turned the art of wallpapering dumpsters into the Wallpapered Dumpsters Project, a potent combination of “polite graffiti” and passive protest that simply can’t be ignored. Finley also invokes gender differences lurking at the heart or her art. “It’s sweet,” states Finley, “and it’s something that draws activism, art, feminization and beauty all together. To me wallpaper is feminine, it’s beautiful, it’s decor, and to put that outside on something so obviously brutish — it’s a simple twist that I think everyone can enjoy.”

(images via: NYDailyNews.com, Bye Justin and This Is Love Forever)

Wallpapering dumpsters may be Finley’s current and arguably most notable gig but she’s no one-trick pony. After achieving her BFA from the Pratt Institute in New York and an MFA from California State University, Long Beach, Finley embarked on a successful string of exhibitions at Hot Art Fair Basel, Aequalis Contemporary, High Energy Constructs, Salon Oblique, and DUMBA Collective just to name a few.

(image via: Muzic-World)

In 2007, Finley was named artist-in-residence at the Treehouse Gallery in Los Angeles and she is currently the artist-in-residence at Gai Mattiolo fashion house in Rome, Italy. “Residence” shouldn’t be taken too literally, however, as Finley has spent an enormous amount of time over the past few years globetrotting from city to city, leaving her unique mark on dumpsters of all shapes and sizes.

Down in the Dumpsters

(images via: Interior Design and Brownstoner)

Finley is an environmentalist as much as she is an artist, and it was the former that led directly to the latter. While working as a set dresser in Los Angeles several years ago, Finley noted that reams of barely used wallpaper left over from photo shoots often ended up in the dumpster. A light bulb went on and Finley discovered a way of recycling the rolls for a noble purpose.

(images via: Wallpapered Dumpsters)

The first wallpapered dumpsters appeared near a port in Los Angeles and upon her return to Rome another couple of containers got “the treatment”. Then, perhaps for the first time, people began to notice what Finley likes to call “urban throwaway zones”. All part & parcel of Finley’s grand plan: “environmental activism turning into unexpected beauty.”

(image via: Wallpapered Dumpsters)

Finley is also a big proponent of free and accessible art, and dumpsters fit that bill perfectly. Most, if not all of the wallpaper she uses to cover up bland, blended-in dumpsters has been donated or dumped after cursory use and as for accessible, look around: it’s hard not to travel far in the city without seeing a dumpster or two or more.

(images via: Apartment Therapy and BBC Brasil)

“I believe we are responsible for our city,” says Finley, “to do what we can to transform, from the top down and from the dumpster up.” Erm, just keep the top down on that dumpster, Christine, the inner city’s fragrant enough as it is.

Trash Talking

(images via: Olio Design and Dumbo NYC)

C. Finley has no fear of imitators – in fact, she’s more than pleased to have a few. During one recent dumpster-beautification expedition near New York’s New Museum, Finley and friends decided to slap together a “How To” video… it seems there’s a method to wallpapering dumpsters that goes beyond the act of affixing the wallpaper.

(images via: Unconsumption and Inhabitat)

By educating and empowering amateur artists around the world, Finley is striving to make her pioneering form of street art an ongoing, cooperative effort that excites people into acting locally while thinking globally.

(images via: Treehugger and Wallpapered Dumpsters)

If your town’s looking a little trashy these days, don’t get down in the dumps, get down to your dumpster and get busy: “The more beautified dumpsters that are out there, the more we will think about what we throw into them,” reasons Finley, “which stands to change our attitudes toward consumption and sustainability.”

(image via: Wallpapered Dumpsters)

Though the self-styled dumpster diva is doing her best to set the wheels in motion, she’s not spinning her own wheels by any means. Her latest volley in her quiet war against over-consumption involves bringing the Wallpapered Dumpster Project to 10 cities scattered across Europe. Consider it culture with taste… sort of like yogurt, but much better looking!

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