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Why is there a big, orange C-shaped arrow in Washington Park?

Tana Weingartner
Artist Philip Short says "'Re:' was designed to encourage viewers to have a unique and engaging sensory experience as it relates to the concept of recycling."

It sprung up in early April... a big, orange C-shaped arrow sitting in the  middle of Washington Park. People walk by and take pictures of it, or selfies with it. There's a lid on the end of the arrow, but no sign explaining its existence.

It turns out this piece of public art is called "Re:." It was designed by artist Philip Short, a student at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, for 3CDC's annual EcoSculpt competition. The only problem? The event was canceled this year but  Short didn't get the memo. 3CDC says it liked the piece so much it decided to put it on display for the month of April anyway.

Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
The artwork also functions as a recycling bin. The lid at the bottom of the arrow opens to reveal a space for cans, bottles, etc.

The sculpture isn't just a piece of art, it's a functional recycling bin. Lift the handle at the bottom of the arrow, and you'll find a recycling receptacle. The piece was made from recycled materials as well.

How Short describes the work:

The piece is a large recycling container made from recycled aluminum from a local scrap yard. The arrow guides the viewer around the piece to the lid where they may discard recyclables. A trash bag is secured underneath the lid to contain recycled items. The fluorescent orange paint draws attention to the container.

More about Short's inspiration:

The concept for the sculpture stemmed from the artist’s recent semester abroad in Cape Town, South Africa. During his visit, he noticed that Coca-Cola cans in Cape Town were heavier than the ones found in the United States. Upon his return, he weighed the Cape Town can against a can from North Carolina. According to his research, the standard United States beverage can (355mL) weighs 13.7 grams while the South African can (330mL), weighs 32 grams. While researching what makes some cans heavier than others, the concept of recycling stood out to him as a valuable process that could be addressed in art. The main expenditure in making an aluminum beverage can is in the actual production of the aluminum. Recycling can save up to 95% of the total energy cost to produce aluminum cans. This experience has since shifted his artistic focus towards the importance of recycling, specifically the recycling of aluminum.