Local artists transform tornado rubble into art to benefit tornado relief efforts

Twisted Root Gallery is auctioning artwork created from tornado rubble to benefit Moore Public Schools. The fundraiser is Saturday at the Oklahoma City gallery.
BY RACHAEL CERVENKA rcervenka@opubco.com Published: July 12, 2013

In the aftermath of the May 20 tornado, many saw the mountains of rubble as garbage, but local artist Josh Cockle saw potential for something more.

Cockle frequently takes objects that appear useless and modifies them into something not only beautiful, but functional. Given his background, he thought there was no better way to aid in tornado relief efforts than to do this with the rubble left along the tornado's path.

When Adam Shelton, owner of Twisted Root Gallery, heard Cockle's idea, he transformed it into something larger than Cockle had imagined. Shelton doesn't create art, in the traditional sense, but through his regular interactions with artists, business people and everyday folks, he was the perfect person to make Cockle's idea a reality.

“I am more of a mental artist,” Shelton said. “Any interesting idea that comes my way, I want to push because I always try to make sure when an idea comes up that I can be the one to motivate people to make it go to the finish line, because most people just can't do it.”

Ten of Twisted Root Gallery's 35 resident artists have created 3-D pieces of art from the tornado rubble for an art fundraiser to be held Saturday at the gallery, Shelton said. The fundraiser will feature a silent auction, live music and more. Cockle said he felt a connection to the children affected by the tornado, so all proceeds from the auction will be donated to Moore Public Schools Tornado Relief Fund.

The pieces for the fundraiser were created from the two truckloads of items collected on the property of Cockle's close friend who lost his home. While rummaging through the rubble, Shelton and Cockle found it overwhelming to choose pieces from what was left of people's possessions.

“There were thousands of piles as high as the ceiling everywhere,” Shelton said.

Meaning from chaos

When creating his piece for the fundraiser, Cockle thought about what each different part meant, and that played a big role in assembling it, he said. He built his piece using a variety of things ranging from a window shutter to an old black and white photograph.

“It's just pieces of people's lives that were just all lying around,” he said. “It kind of represents my friend, for instance, and all these other people that lost their home. ... They have these little tiny pieces of what they can pick up and they put them in their car, and that's just how they are living, with all these little broken pieces of their lives.”

Twisted Root Gallery resident artist Sam Douglas, created a planter from a trash bin lid, pieces of stained glass and a miniature house. By adding color and plants, he attempted to bring life to such a sad situation, he said. The house in the center of the planter carries the most meaning for Douglas, simply because of the many people who lost their own homes.

“I am just amazed that people are sleeping in tents, and it seems really horrible,” Douglas said. “I wish I could build somebody a house myself, but unfortunately I can't.”

The artists at Twisted Root Gallery hope that through this event they will not only raise money but they will also raise awareness about ways to aid relief efforts.

Douglas said his wish for those who attend or hear about the fundraiser is that they will be inspired.

“You can take something negative and turn it into something positive — and keep going — as hard as it may be,” he said.


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