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May 6, 2013
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Sculpture Celebrates National Recycling Month and Dogwood Arts Partnership
A new tree has been “planted” at the Gerdau steel mill in the Lonsdale community. A sculpture named “Cornus Castanea Gerdau,” which translates to “Dogwood Chestnut Gerdau,” was installed during a ceremony April 26.
The name signifies that the more than 15-foot-tall tree sculpture was created through a partnership between Gerdau and Dogwood Arts. The piece is a collaboration of four prominent local artists.
In April 2012, Gerdau’s Knoxville steel mill opened its scrap yard to a dozen local artists selected by Dogwood Arts to select discarded steel to recycle and reuse in future works of art. A few of those artists, Preston Farabow of Aespyre, Zophia Kneiss of Burning Art, and Matt Salley and Chris Szaton of Marble City Glassworks, created this special piece to demonstrate the true art of recycling and to thank Gerdau for its support of their work.
“While our business is recycling discarded scrap metal into new steel, an artist sees this scrap in a different way than we do,” said Johnny Miller, Gerdau vice president and general manager of the Knoxville mill. “To us, rebar is the foundational framework of buildings, bridges and roadways; these artists have turned it into bark for a tree. The scraps they selected have taken on a whole new life.”
Commemorating National Recycling Month, this tree sculpture created from discarded steel and new glass has now been “planted” in Gerdau’s own front lawn.
As the artwork created from last year’s dig was installed, the process was already underway for next year. The 2013 scrap yard dig took place April 27 and included professional sculptors selected by Dogwood Arts as well as art students from the University of Tennessee and Pellissippi State Community College. Nearly 9 tons of scrap materials were selected by the artists to incorporate into new works.
“Dogwood Arts is grateful for Gerdau’s strong support of our public art program, Art in Public Places Knoxville. We’re always looking for fun and interesting ways to add new elements to the festival,” said Dogwood Arts Festival Executive Director Lisa Duncan. “With this project, we are celebrating a novel way of recycling while also supporting the arts.”
The intent is that the annual scrap yard dig will produce new works for the community to enjoy as well as a new sculpture installed at Gerdau each year.
“Gerdau is excited for this opportunity to support the arts, celebrate National Recycling Month, and share the message of how ‘green’ our business really is,” Miller said. “The tree sculpture will be a lasting reminder of Gerdau’s unique partnership with Dogwood Arts.”
Gerdau is one of Tennessee’s largest recyclers. The company is one of the largest steel recyclers in Tennessee and the largest in our area, recycling nearly 1.2 billion tons of steel in 2012. One ton of recycled steel saves 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone.
Gerdau is the leading producer of long steel in the Americas and one of the largest suppliers of special long steel in the world. It has over 45,000 employees and industrial operations in 14 countries with operations in the Americas, Europe and Asia, which together represent an installed capacity of over 25 million metric tons of steel per year. It is the largest recycler in Latin America and around the world it transforms millions of metric tons of scrap into steel every year. Gerdau is listed on the stock exchanges of São Paulo, New York, and Madrid and has around 140,000 shareholders.
The Knoxville steel mill has been in this community for 110 years under various names and owners. Gerdau took over operations in 2000 and employs 237 local residents.