Even a global pandemic couldn’t crush Lindsay Huff’s can-do spirit.
The artist and metalsmith spent the past year crafting wildlife murals out of aluminum cans at Ketchup City Creative, a gallery and event space in Sharpsburg that opened in 2018. The 22 pieces of art will be installed throughout the borough as part of a project for the Triboro Ecodistrict and Sharpsburg Neighborhood Organization.
In May, visitors will be able to go on a self-guided tour to see Huff’s birds, trees and flowers.
She’s been repurposing cans into collages and large-scale sculptures since 2016 and served as a resident artist in local elementary schools, where she taught kids how to transform a Pepsi into a masterpiece.
Right before the shutdown, she and Ketchup City co-owner Nanci Goldberg (her art teacher at Fox Chapel Middle School) were getting ready to launch a series of public can-art workshops.
Covid put the kibosh on those plans, so Goldberg offered her former student the use of the temporarily vacant space at 612 Main St. Huff, whose Etna basement is already packed with her preferred medium, gladly accepted the offer.
Folks from the neighborhood regularly drop off their empty beverage containers, which are washed, sorted by color and have their tops and bottoms removed with tinsnips to create malleable rectangles. (FYI: She’s always in need of more shades of blue and brown). In addition to the nature pieces, Huff created signage for Second Harvest, Sharpsburg’s new eco-friendly thrift shop, and is gearing up to make a pair of sculptures for an Etna park.
In Huff’s opinion, recycled can art is a way to beautify neighborhoods and help the environment.
“It’s a thing people know that I do so they save cans for me,” Huff says with a laugh. “It’s an odd but sweet way to participate in an art project. The work has a different resonance when you’re using familiar materials.”