From waste to redemption through socks, underwear and lint

Upcoming Vancouver art show features ‘upcycled’ materials

When life gave Leah Price lemons, she didn’t go the traditional lemonade route.

Instead, she made art derived from some of the most unlikely sources and heartbreaking circumstances possible.

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The 51-year-old is hosting a three-day art exhibit kicking off Thursday, July 28 called DIVORCE: a Waste Audit, a show that serves as equal parts recycling class, therapy session and moving party all in one.

The inspiration for Price’s work comes largely by way of the events of the last nine months: while going through a divorce and packing up 18 years’ worth of belongings, she’s held on to various pieces of garbage and recyclables that were collected at pivotal and trying times.

On top of dealing with the divorce, she’s a full-time mom of two kids with special needs.

Some of her pieces include the waste left behind from her family’s final meal together, an image of her home made from dryer lint and a series of fabrics woven together from her ex-husband’s socks and underwear.

“I didn’t start off thinking I would do an art show, I simply was processing my emotions about it. But the image of the house kept coming up into what I was doing,” she told the Courier. “All of those emotions have come out and I’m ready to go.”

The theme of having to go also plays prominently into the exhibit; the day after her show wraps up on Sunday, she leaves her 10th Avenue house forever and it changes hands to a new owner.

That impending disconnect is reflected in one of the textile works she’ll have on display called “The New Owner Wants to See the Property,” a piece that illustrates her reticence to answer a painful email from her realtor.

Instead of sending a prompt answer, Price went through a mishmash of fabrics and towels she collected over the years and got sewing. Her hesitance was compounded by the sting brought on by Vancouver’s housing market: Price believes the 1929 character home will be razed to the ground once she moves.

The end result of her trepidation includes a series of towels from her wedding day and others she received after first moving into her home. She even included some of her ex’s socks and skivvies for good measure.  

“I could not answer that email. I didn’t want to meet the man who was going to be living in this house, I didn’t want to sell this house,” she said. “In order to figure out how to email this person back, I had to set my mind to something else.”

Meanwhile, “Division of Assets” features an image of Price’s home that’s made of broken crayons: they were first put into a blender before they were congealed and set into their final form.

Price’s full-time foray into the arts only happened within the last year; she had previously staked out a career in teaching and only periodically dabbled in design.

She recently completed a fashion design course at Vancouver Community College, and is now a member of a number of local art/recycling groups, while also teaching a course on zero-waste sewing on the side.

“Having two kids with special needs, my life really narrowed down to a tiny pin prick. I had no time for anything except therapy, appointments and phone calls,” Price said. “I didn’t realize I was an artist until I turned 50 years old, even though I’ve been doing this all my life, making stuff out of nothing.”

Admission to DIVORCE: a Waste Audit is by donation and proceeds will be donated to charity. The show runs daily until Saturday, July 30 from 4 to 9 p.m. at 3642 West 10th Ave.

@JohnKurucz

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