Junky Art or Arty ‘Junque?’


Sara Aeikens and her husband Leo have been walking the same path around Fountain Lake in Albert Lea for close to 15 years. For the last three of those years, Aeikens has been picking up the discarded objects she finds along the way and taking them home. She estimates she now has over two thousand objects, many of which are currently on display at the Albert Lea Art Center. She’s grouped them together to create sculptural pieces. Others she’s put out for people to mix and match into their own creations.


Aeikens show, titled “Junky Art or Arty Junque?” is on display in connection with another exhibition on sustainable art. Aeikens says she’s given her ritual of picking up other people’s trash a lot of thought. Here’s what she says she’s learned:

Our little actions do make a difference- negative or positive.

When we toss a tiny thing, it becomes many things.

Our little contributions affect our environment- right in our own neighborhood.

We could improve on noticing our little actions- by keeping our eyes to the ground and also by being aware of our larger surroundings and how we impact our space.

Junk can be colorful, unique, artistic and can be turned into “JUNQUE ART.”

Junk can create humorous situations and spaces.

In my junque journey I enjoyed putting together numerous pieces that magically fit together after locating a frame or foundation to contain it or serve as a cohesive unit.

Junk to Junque can have a spiritual component.

Aeikens says she’s noticed that some people coming into her gallery space have almost immediately turned around and walked out, or have simply said out loud “I don’t get it,” and she respects that. But she says she also believes what we throw away says as much about ourselves as what we keep. Taking a long hard look at our junk may be difficult for some, because it reveals things we may not be comfortable with.

(Images by Marie DeGennaro, courtesy of Sara Aeikens)

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