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Mac Premo has been making art his whole life in all sorts of mediums. From collage to film to sculpture, Mac has done it all. Recently, Do the Green Thing teamed up with World Wildlife Fund-UK and asked 15 artist, including Mac, to repurpose everyday objects and show how creativity can lead to a greener lifestyle. I spoke with Mac about his contribution to the ‘Everyday Things’ collection, The Bucket Board.
Tell me about The Bucket Board. Where did you come up with the idea?
The World Wildlife Fund and Pentagram Design asked 15 artists to participate in an Earth Hour initiative where they repurposed everyday materials into a piece of art, an object or a product. That’s kind of what most of my art entails, so I kind of re-asked myself the question, rephrased it. I thought: what do I care about, and can that be made out of trash? Skateboarding came immediately to mind, so I called Don Sanford at Sanford Shapes, a small skateboard maker, and asked if he would come on board and see what we could come up with.
Can you describe the process of making The Bucket Board?
Just like a regular skateboard, but with recycled wood and a flattened out bucket on the bottom. Thin layers of veneer are covered with glue and then pressed into a form. Then the shape is cut out, put on some grip tape, trucks and wheels and go skating.
Has skateboarding always been a significant part of your life? Do you still skateboard?
Skating has played a tremendous role in my life. It taught me to see the world in a new way, taught me to look at things not for what they are intended to be, but for what creativity and effort could make them become. I still do skate, though not the way I used to. I’m almost 42. In skating years, that’s like a hundred-eighteen.
When did you start looking at trash as something that could be repurposed into artwork?
I’m not sure I can pinpoint it, but when I was in college I became inspired to make collage. Once you start down that path, there really isn’t anything you’d consider trash anymore.
How do you decide what trash is worth repurposing?
Meaning and / or form. I like what something represents, either as its initial intention or interpreted meaning, or I like how something looks. Ideally both.
Let’s talk about The Dumpster Project. How did that come about?
I had to move to a smaller studio, so I had to downsize, get rid of a bunch of my stuff. So I figured, well, if this has to go in a dumpster, I’m going to do it my way. I photographed about 500 objects, from the empty bag of potato chips from the night I told my wife I loved her to our daughters first saddle shoes. Every day I would post that photograph online with a short paragraph about it. At the same time, I used those objects to create an enormous walk in collage in the back of a 30 yard dumpster. None of this would have been possible without the help of a lot of really good folks—Frank Collective, David Belt, Doreen Maddox, Fleetwood Fernandez Architecture, my wife, Oisin Dineen.
The Dumpster Project holds a lot of your own personal trash, a golf score card, a silver cigarette case, and so on. How did you organize this project? How did it feel to actually let go of all this “trash” that holds so many memories?
I wasn’t really letting go of anything. I was organizing it into a singular container, a singular place constituted of multiplicities, a taxonomy of my existence told through objects.
Where is the dumpster now?
Right now it is at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida as part of a show called Re:Purposed curated by Matthew McLendon.
What projects are you working on currently?
I have some art projects cooking, and a few short films coming up for Live Earth, but mainly The Bucket Board. As well as taking on projects that pay me in dollars so I can continue buying food and wine.
Any last thoughts?
I hope not. My goal is to think them until I’m unaware I can’t anymore.