Styrofoam Sculptures at Embarcadero Center

Styrofoam Sculptures at Embarcadero Center

(August 27, 2007)

Unique pieces question use of quarried stone, tossing of unused construction sealants

Sculptor Ellen Babcock shapes large pieces of Styrofoam then applies layers of discarded construction sealants to create sculptures that closely resemble chunks of marble and agate.

Babcock's sculptures are featured in a street-level display at One Embarcadero Center in San Francisco's Financial District. She made the unusual pieces while working with garbage in the Artist In Residence Program at the Solid Waste Transfer Station and Recycling Center, also known as "the dump," in San Francisco.

The program aims to engage people to think about their own garbage and the importance of recycling and resource conservation. Artists selected to participate receive access to waste materials and a studio workspace at the dump, which is located west of Highway 101 near Monster Park.

Babcock's sculptures comment on the scaring rock quarries leave on the earth, the resources expended to mine and ship marble, quartz and other minerals great distances, and the use and discarding of toxic materials in construction.

In searching for materials to make faux rocks for her sculptures Babcock found numerous tubes of unused epoxy, urethane, silicone and acrylic caulking, and other construction sealants recycling workers pulled out of garbage.

Silicone, urethane, epoxy and other sealants are often thrown out by people undertaking small construction jobs, remodeling and home repairs. But construction sealants and adhesives are hazardous waste and do not belong in garbage and recycling carts or the landfill. San Francisco residents and businesses should go to for information on how to properly dispose of such items.

Babcock worked all but one day of her 120-day residence at the dump and found the amount and variety of waste eye opening. "I am more aware than ever that what we choose to use and throw away has impact on the earth."

Babcock hopes her sculptures encourage people to consider reusing materials when planning decorative or landscaping projects. She believes Styrofoam and sealants should be kept out landfills. The sculptures will be displayed at One Embarcadero Center in San Francisco's Financial District through Sept. 30.

The art from garbage program is sponsored by SF Recycling & Disposal, Inc., sister to Sunset Scavenger Company. Both are 100 percent employee owned.