News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


Subject :

Artist Jenny Odell to Explore the Connection between People and their Discarded Items
Participants will Create ‘Garbage Selfie,’ Learn about Recycling Process
Contact : Ken Heiman    6506173511
PALO ALTO, CA– What is the difference between trash and treasure? What makes a beloved object suddenly unwanted, and what compels someone to discard it? What is the provenance of the objects in our trash—where did they come from, how did they get here? These are only some of the questions that artist Jenny Odell will address during her Creative Ecology residency at the Palo Alto Art Center beginning in June.

Odell creates artworks from imagery and information mined from the internet to highlight the material nature of our contemporary networked lives. Whether creating landscape photographs from Google satellite views of infrastructure, collecting her own trash to make a garbage selfie, or researching and exhibiting discarded objects, Odell brings what she calls an archeological approach to the everyday in her art. Because her work involves the extensive use of gathering, tagging, and cataloguing, her work has also been compared to that of a natural scientist.

“Trash feels to me less like an identifiable category and more like a psychological judgment that is as reversible as it is arbitrary,” says Odell, who is fascinated by the process of collecting and discarding.

In the summer of 2015, Odell participated in the Recology Artist in Residence Program at the San Francisco transfer station. The experience inspired a body of new work, and will inform Odell’s Creative Ecology residency.

Odell is interested in creating opportunities to connect the personal to the global in this project. What personal decisions about collecting and discarding have a global environmental impact? Through in-the-field and in-the-gallery projects, Odell will connect people to their trash and that of others, and showcase the global impact of our focus on consumption.

Odell’s effort is part of Creative Ecology: Exploring Our Environment with Art, Science, and the Community, an innovative program promoting appreciation of the natural world through scientific inquiry and the creative process. The effort includes artists, educators, and the larger community, and is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and made possible through a partnership between the Palo Alto Art Center and the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo.

Each artist residency is divided into three unique phases. The first phase takes place in the field at a local open space preserve and engages different community groups and the public in a range of activities. During the second phase of each residency, artists will take inspiration from their time on site, creating new work on-site at the Art Center. The third phase of the residency will culminate with their artwork being presented in an exhibition with related programming.

As part of the first phase of her residency, Odell will join in tours of the Palo Alto Regional Water Quality Control Plant, and participants will learn about the process of recycling water through science activities presented by the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo.

Odell will also discuss the art and history of former landfill Byxbee Park in Palo Alto, and conduct an art activity in which visitors will create a “garbage selfie” by using discarded/recyclable materials that will be printed out for them to take home. Odell will be in-the-field at Byxbee Park, 2375 Embarcadero Road, Palo Alto, on the following dates: Saturday, June 11, 10 a.m.-noon; Saturday, June 18, 10 a.m.-noon; and Saturday, June 25, 10 a.m.-noon. The activities are free and the general public is invited to attend.

About Artist Jenny Odell:
Jenny Odell received a BA in English from UC Berkeley and an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. Her work has been exhibited at the Contemporary Jewish Museum (current show), Intersection for the Arts, Google Headquarters, and in numerous publications including TIME’s Lightbox, the Atlantic, the Economist, and WIRED.

About The Palo Alto Art Center:
The Palo Alto Art Center is your place to discover art. See, make, and be inspired because everyone is an artist. Created by the community, for the community in 1971, the Palo Alto Art Center provides an accessible and welcoming place to engage with art. We serve approximately 90,000 people every year through a diverse range of programs.

The Palo Alto Art Center, Division of Arts and Sciences, City of Palo Alto is funded in part by grants from Silicon Valley Creates and the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation. The Palo Alto Art Center Foundation gratefully acknowledges support from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Yellow Chair Foundation, private donations, and members.

About the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo:
The Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo, Division of Arts and Sciences, City of Palo Alto has an 80-year legacy of inspiring a passion for science, an appreciation for nature and a love of exploration. The JMZ experience can change children’s lives by introducing them to science and nature at a formative state. We provide enhanced experiences for children, from birth to middle school, offering direct access to nature and science through undirected play and exploration.

The JMZ currently serves as a primary resource for science and environmental learning for 8 of 12 Palo Alto elementary schools and for Willow Oaks School and Brentwood Academy in the Ravenswood School District. By using a trained staff of science educators who provide STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education, in-depth hands-on programs reach 16,700 students each year. Educators travel to elementary classrooms in Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, San Mateo and throughout the region to provide core science classes that complement school district curriculum.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services:
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive.  To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

# # #