The Comedic Therapy team won first place in the 2013 Sculpture Games. 

(Photo: Courtesy of Alanna Brake)
Junk destined for the dump gets new life in the "Sculpture Games."

The event welds together recycling and art to inspire people to use old items and other materials to make new creations.

Competitors have a limited amount of time to rummage through a random selection of supplies – think: skis, books, lamps, wood, metal, fabrics. At the end, teams lose points for any grabbed items that go unused.

 “In some ways it’s like the ‘Project Runway’ of sculpture,” event founder and curator Megan Tracy says. “The participants have no idea what’s going to be in front of them. Some come in with a vision, others select materials that inspire them.”

The third annual competition comes to Denver this weekend. Four teams will compete at the National Western Complex during the Denver Mini Maker Faire, May 3-4.

Colorado Public Radio caught up with Tracy in anticipation of this weekend's competition. 

A recap of the 2013 Sculpture Games in Loveland, Colo. The competition comes to Denver in 2014.

CPR: How did the "Sculpture Games" originate?

Megan Tracy: The "Sculpture Games" originated after a brainstorming session between artist Jade Windell and myself. We wanted an event that was interactive and really fun to help activate a vacant lot next to the Loveland Feed & Grain. The use of material that was considered junk by most made this event approachable by everyone. To break from traditional standards in terms of art events was important to us. All of this led to our partnership with Uncle Benny's Building Supply  a local resource store. They provided us with junk for our event and  a vision on how it could grow, as well as new and antique items of interest for our artists.  

CPR: Why is the competition being hosted in Denver for the first time this year?

Megan Tracy: We were invited by the Denver Mini Maker Faire organizers as a way to link the process of making to the result of making. Normally at any event you see the end product or art work. The "Sculpture Games" is a chance for you to interact and see the process firsthand. I think that is what makes it so exciting and why the organizers of the Maker Faire decided we would be a good fit for their event.

CPR: How do you select the teams? Do competitors have to be sculptors by trade? Are they all Colorado residents?

Megan Tracy: At this point in our event history we hand select and invite the artists based on their abilities to entertain and their skill levels as sculptors. All of our artists are sculptors by choice, but their careers vary from college professors to medical professionals and fabricators to stone carvers. We have had many inquiries from people who want to sculpt in the games, so we hope to open this process up to more artists for future events. All of the artists for this event are Colorado residents from Denver, Fort Collins and Loveland.

CPR: What can attendees take away from the experience?

Megan Tracy: Attendees will walk away from this event inspired to create new out of old. We are so resourceful as humans, but in this day and age, it is easy to just go out and buy new. This event allows the public to think outside the box and watch artists grab something destined for the landfill  or recycle bin  and turn it into art. Younger guests will also have an opportunity to build their own recycled sculpture from materials donated by the City of Loveland Recycle Program.

CPR: Describe one or two of the most memorable or unique sculptures in past competitions.

A sculpture made by artist Robin Dodge during the 2012 Sculpture Games.

(Photo: Courtesy of Alanna Brake)
Megan Tracy: In 2012, artist Robin Dodge created a 6-foot peacock out of recycled ventilation materials and copper accents. The piece was auctioned off as a fundraiser for Alternatives to Violence, an organization that provides services to survivors of violent crime. One of the most memorable 2013 sculptures was done by a group of local glass blowing artists. They created a "musical space pod," which was a chair made out of recycled metal that you can sit in and play like a musical instrument. Artists have used old skies, metal, tires, books, lamps, wood siding, wire and countless other objects to create their work. 

The third annual Sculpture Games take place May 3-4 during the Denver Mini Maker Faire at the National Western Complex.