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Maryland Department of the Environment

Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles honors student artists at 18th annual Rethink Recycling Sculpture Contest

Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles honors student artists at 18th annual Rethink Recycling Sculpture Contest

Annual awards promote recycling and creativity among high school students

BALTIMORE, MD (November 22, 2019) – Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles presented a grand prize and prizes to eight other student winners today at the department’s 18th annual “Rethink Recycling” Sculpture Contest at Montgomery Park in Baltimore City.

Later, the department awarded prizes for the image of a shadowy singer, a cardboard clock, and a tribal-inspired mask – all made from reused materials. Students from Carroll County, Prince George’s County and Baltimore County won the top prizes.

“Maryland’s youthful artists inspire us all to reduce, reuse, recycle, and rethink waste so we can keep protecting the environment and fighting climate change well into the future,” Secretary Grumbles said. “Last year Marylanders recycled nearly 3.1 million tons of municipal solid waste and diverted nearly 48 percent of our waste from landfills and incinerators, with the future looking brighter and greener thanks to student-led innovations and creations.”

Rethink Recycling challenges Maryland high school students to use recycled materials to create artistic and innovative sculptures. This year, 66 entries from 20 high schools in 14 counties across the state were on display.

Jorja Rodgers from Century High School in Carroll County was the Grand Prize winner for her shadow sculpture, “Silhouette of Selena.” Rodgers’ artwork was made using plastic and paper which created a shadow image on a backdrop. Rodgers received an Xbox One X Star Wars edition console bundle and extra controller for her efforts.

The category winners, who each received Sony Wireless ear buds, were:

  • Creativity: Martina Barber, Suitland High School, Prince George’s County, for “Kamikaze,” using crayons, paper, cardboard, hair and recycling bins as materials.
  • Workmanship: Casey Wehrman, Suitland High School, Prince George’s County, for creating “Body of Distortion,” made of newspaper, cardboard, paper pulp and charcoal.
  • Use of Materials: Alex Vagnier, Winters Mill High School, Carroll County, for “lDK,” made of a personal computer, lamp, light switch, plexiglass, bottle caps and a waffle iron.
  • People’s Choice Category: Sam Birkenthal, Towson High School, Baltimore County, for “Six Nineteen”, using only cardboard.

The second-place winners in each category, who received $100 Amazon gift cards, were:

  • Creativity: Nikki Hamidi, Northwest High School, Montgomery County, for her work entitled “Caffeine in Color.”
  • Workmanship: Tony Leal, Suitland High School, Prince George’s County, for crafting “Deer of Reflection.”
  • Use of Materials: Allison Johnson, Fort Hill High School, Allegany County, for constructing “Recycled Head.”
  • People’s Choice: Emily Giffhorn, South Carroll High School, Carroll County, for “Turtley Awesome.”

Sponsors of the event were the American Cleaning Institute; Exelon; Maryland Recycling Network; Maryland, Delaware, D.C. Beverage Association; Blick Art Materials; Baltimore Museum of Art; National Aquarium; and Waste Management.. Sponsors donated prizes, funding, and refreshments for this year’s contest.

“We will need creative solutions and innovations to successfully tackle our nation’s recycling challenges,” said the recycling art event’s top sponsor, American Cleaning Institute Senior Vice President of Communications and Outreach Brian Sansoni. “The cleaning products industry is proud to support and honor the artistry demonstrated in the ‘Rethink Recycling’ Sculpture Contest, which should inspire all of us to commit our energies to enhance recycling initiatives across the country.”

In addition to the MDE prizes, the Maryland Recycling Network conducted its own judging and awarded its grand prize to Amber George, Leonardtown High School, St. Mary’s County, for “Plastic Reef.”

Contest judges tasked with determining the winners of the contest based on creativity, use of materials, and workmanship were: John Lewis, instructor at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA); Theresa Foggo, local muralist and freelance artist; Pamela Kellet, environmental scientist; Kaley Laleker, director of the Maryland Department of the Environment’s Land and Materials Administration; and Stephanie Cobb-Williams, deputy director of the Maryland Department of the Environment’s Land and Materials Administration.

Since 2001, the Department of the Environment has celebrated America Recycles Day by hosting the annual “Rethink Recycling” Sculpture Contest. High school students from across Maryland are invited to participate by creating sculptures made of recycled and reusable materials. “Rethink Recycling” is just one way MDE educates and empowers the public to reuse and recycle materials that would have otherwise gone into landfills.

To find out what you can do to reduce, reuse, recycle and buy recycled products, visit MDE’s recycling web page. It is the mission of the department to protect and restore the environment for the health and well-being of all Marylanders.

Visit this link to see photos of winners from the event:

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