LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- They say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. One artist is putting that motto to the test, inviting the public to do the same at a new Louisville exhibit.

Random knick knacks appear to be scattered in every direction. However, if you look a little further, what appears to be trash, is one woman's treasure.

"That pallet came from a transfer station in Seattle, Washington. That wood they all have stories," says artist Meg Hartwig. "My media for five months as a sculptor and a visual artist was people's waste -- what they were deeming was people's waste, what they were deeming invaluable, which they were trying to recycle."

Hartwig has spent countless hours on collecting. She found trashed two-by-fours, wires and Pampers packaging to name a few to mold together and free draw with a ballpoint pen.

"What folks have said, 'this is trash, this is trash, this is recycling, this is recycling. I'm done. I don't need need this, I don't want it.' I started thinking about my own waste stream," Hartwig said.

Hartwig has made it her life's work, spending 15 years creating items made from what most would pitch.

"Spending so much time looking at precious details of crunched broken hangers that people don't want anymore and a baking pan that they decided, I don't need this. Get rid of it. When people decided to make those choices, I wanted to make those choices also," Hartwig said.

She shipped these items from Seattle, Washington to 894 Gallery inside the Kentucky College of Art and Design at Spalding University.

"As an artist, I love and appreciate and am striving for people to look, to literally start looking, to see what they're looking at," Hartwig said.

Hartwig says the embedded history can provide a platform to raise the question of value. "Somebody can ask, 'What is that? Why is that?' and then bring those questions to their own life," she said.

A lot of Hartwig's work will go back into the waste stream, but not without first begging the question of if there's a bigger lesson in looking past what meets the eye. "That's up to them," Hartwig said.

Hartwig's exhibit, 'Refuse' is on display at 849 Gallery through January 19.

849 Gallery is located at 849 South Third Street in Louisville. The gallery's hours are Thursday and Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. or by appointment. To contact the 849 Gallery, call (502) 873-4373.

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