Student sculptors ‘dig in’ to recycling at Gerdau


Scrapyard search will lead to new works at ‘Art of Recycling’ exhibition

Gerdau’s Knoxville steel mill in Lonsdale is always busy recycling. On Jan. 27, that recycling took a different twist as eight University of Tennessee Sculpture Program students gathered there for a scrapyard dig.

Collectively, the student artists selected 3,540 pounds of scrap metal and found inspiration for new works of art to be created during the spring semester and revealed in April, which is National Recycling Month.

“Recycling discarded scrap and seeing it come out as brand new steel is our business, so our employees see a value in scrap that most people don’t think about,” said John Miller, Gerdau Knoxville vice president and general manager. “Similarly, these artists see a unique type of potential in our scrap piles, and I look forward to seeing what the artists’ inspirations from the same raw materials creates.”

The students’ works will be unveiled on Thursday, April 5, at the launch of the annual “Art of Recycling” sculpture exhibition. A partnership among Gerdau, the UT Sculpture Program and Dogwood Arts, the event is free and open to the public April 5-22 at the Knoxville Convention Center.

University of Tennessee Sculpture Program student Thomas Colabella inspects his finds at Gerdau’s scrapyard on Jan. 27. Colabella and other students visited the steel recycler for raw materials and inspiration for new works of art to be unveiled April 5 at the Knoxville Convention Center. The Art of Recycling sculpture exhibition, a partnership among Gerdau, the UT Sculpture Program and Dogwood Arts, is free and open to the public April 5-22 and celebrates National Recycling Month.

Gerdau environmental manager Chris Miles appreciated the opportunity to celebrate both Earth Day and National Recycling Month in such a fun and unique way.

“It’s very fulfilling to be part of this dig and to know that the history in the scrap piles – from old car parts to former building structures – will be recycled into art,” Miles said. “Gerdau’s collaboration with these artists takes recycling of our raw materials to a different level.”

About Gerdau

Gerdau (pronounced “Grr-DOW”) is a leading producer of long steel in the Americas and one of the largest suppliers of special steel in the world. Each year, Gerdau recycles millions of tons of scrap metals into steel products, reinforcing its commitment to sustainable development in the regions where it operates. Gerdau’s North American long steel division manufactures products for the construction, automotive, agricultural and energy markets. Learn more about Gerdau in North America by visiting http://www.gerdau.com/northamerica.

In 2016, Gerdau won the Knoxville Chamber Impact Award in recognition of its broad community support of its Lonsdale neighbors.