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


Subject :

Exhibition Delves into the Sentimental Value and History of Discarded Objects
Contact : Ken Heiman    650-617-3511
Bureau of Suspended ObjectsDiscarded Item-Pink Elephant
PALO ALTO, CA–What drives us to collect? What compels us to discard? What is the connection between personal collecting and global sustainability? These questions and more will be answered by artist Jenny Odell during her exhibition, Bureau of Suspended Objects, at the Palo Alto Art Center beginning October 7.

“Jenny Odell highlights the connection between the personal and global, tapping into our universal drive to collect, but also our sentimental inabilities to discard,” says Art Center Director Karen Kienzle. “We are honored to have Jenny participate in our Creative Ecology residency program at the Art Center.”

The exhibition features 50 items collected from community members and placed on shelves within the Art Center’s Glass Gallery. Each object features a descriptive tag that provides information on the person’s “guilt level” in discarding the item and a QR code. The QR code can easily be scanned using a cell phone and takes the viewer to a web page with more photos and a history of the object. The information is also available in a binder at the exhibition and online at

In addition, Odell has created an interactive/digital component that allows participants to download a free augmented reality app on their cell phones to view a “new” version of the object overlaid on top of a photograph of the “used” object from her exhibition

Some of the items being exhibited include: A ceramic penguin, a bust of German mathematician Carl Gauss, a wooden rocking horse, a Colorado Avalanche ice scraper, a pink elephant with wings ornament, and an orchard ladder.

Her 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

There are four separate artist residencies as part of Creative Ecology. 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 in-the-field, creating new work on-site at the Palo Alto Art Center. The third phase of the residency culminates with their artwork being presented in an exhibition with related programming.

During the first phase of her three-month residency in June, she led an art activity in which visitors created a “garbage selfie” by using discarded/recyclable materials, tours of the Palo Alto Regional Water Quality Control Plant took place, and participants learned about the process of recycling water through science activities presented by the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo. She also discussed the art and history of former landfill Byxbee Park in Palo Alto.

In the second part of her residency, which took place in July and August, Odell collected items from the public described as “pre-trash” or “emotional collateral” that people are hesitant to throw away, objects to which they have a personal attachment. Odell then spoke to each participant, recorded the experience and took photos of the object.

The Bureau of Suspended Objects exhibition runs from October 7-December 11. A free exhibition walkthrough and reception with the artist takes place on October 27, 7-8 p.m. During the reception, there will be a sign up list for people to collect individual items at the end of the exhibition. Jenny Odell will also give a lecture about her artistic process on November 2, 7-8 p.m.

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.

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