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‘The Art of Recycling’ sculpture exhibition on display April 5-22

March 28, 2018

Free exhibition partnership of Gerdau, UT Sculpture Program and Dogwood Arts

Sculptures created by nine University of Tennessee art students that incorporate materials provided by steel recycler Gerdau will be on display April 5-22 at the Knoxville Convention Center on its Clinch Concourse.

“The Art of Recycling” sculpture exhibition celebrates April’s National Recycling Month and is a partnership among Gerdau, Dogwood Arts and the University of Tennessee Sculpture Program. The artworks will be unveiled in a public ceremony Thursday, April 5, at 10 a.m.

In January, Gerdau’s Knoxville steel mill opened its scrapyard to the students, along with John Powers, UT associate professor of sculpture and time-based art. The students selected 3,540 pounds of discarded metal and steel, provided free of charge by Gerdau, and gained inspiration for new works of art.

“Every day, Gerdau creates new steel from discarded scrap metal, preparing it for use in our cities’ infrastructures and keeping it from landfills,” said Johnny Miller, vice president and general manager of Gerdau’s steel mill in Knoxville. “This art project provides an excellent opportunity to support these student sculptors, celebrate National Recycling Month and educate the public about how ‘green’ steel manufacturing really is.”

This marks the fourth year the partnership has culminated in a public art exhibition, and the Knoxville Convention Center remains an enthusiastic supporter of the project.

“The Knoxville Convention Center is proud to host the Art of Recycling, which not only showcases stunning works of art but also reminds us of the importance of environmental responsibility,” said Mary Bogert, general manager of the Knoxville Convention Center, which was the first convention center in Tennessee to achieve Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification. “The recycled nature of these sculptures aligns with our internal green practices and also complements our $1 million permanent art collection.”

Gerdau has partnered with Dogwood Arts for the past eight years and appreciates the opportunity to provide the students with both raw materials and artistic inspiration.

“This event is fun for us,” Miller said. “Scrap steel is a challenging raw material, so we are always impressed with the creative ways these students transform random pieces of discarded steel into unique works of art.”

Dogwood Arts Executive Director Sherry Jenkins is another strong advocate of the partnership and its benefits, including empowering and inspiring student artists.

“Dogwood Arts enriches our city’s culture by fostering relationship between businesses and artists,” Jenkins said. “Gerdau’s continued support of our organization and the talents of the University of Tennessee sculpture department faculty and students make this exhibition a vibrant addition to Dogwood Arts.”

Participating UT students include Reid Arowood, Mary Badillo, Amanda Beasley, Thomas Colabella, Zachary Edwards, Shannon Frisco, Troy Houk, Michaela Leib and Dylan Tan.

Around the world, Gerdau transforms millions of metric tons of scrap into steel every year. The company’s Knoxville mill recycles discarded steel into reinforcing bar, which is used to support concrete in new bridges, buildings and other structures.

University of Tennessee sculpture student Mary Badillo’s “A Circle of Fifths” won the Juror’s Choice award at The Art of Recycling exhibition in 2017. The exhibition, a partnership among steel recycler Gerdau, Dogwood Arts and the UT Sculpture Program, returns to the Knoxville Convention Center April 5-22.

About Gerdau

Gerdau (pronounced “Grr-DOW”) is a leading producer of long steel in the Americas and one of the largest suppliers of special steel in the world. Each year, Gerdau recycles millions of tons of scrap metals into steel products, reinforcing its commitment to sustainable development in the regions where it operates. Gerdau’s North American long steel division manufactures products for the construction, automotive, agricultural and energy markets. Learn more about Gerdau in North America by visiting

In 2016, Gerdau won the Knoxville Chamber Impact Award in recognition of its broad community support of its Lonsdale neighbors.