This exhibit is giving new life to old objects.
“Reclaimed Life,” an exhibition by Jen Fultz, is on display through July 30 in the Goldhaber-Fend Fine Arts Center gallery at the Community Arts Center of Cambria County, 1217 Menoher Blvd., Westmont, showcasing multimedia and repurposed art.
“My favorite art form is taking things that are headed toward the trash and turning them into something usable, something that is art,” said Fultz, a Johnstown resident.
“That’s my favorite,” she said.
“I feel that’s what God did in my life and that drives everything that I do.
“He took my life that was bound for nowhere good and turned it into something he can use for his glory.”
Fultz, the former education coordinator at the arts center, said the exhibit came about after she was approached by executive director Angela R. Godin, who asked if Fultz would like to have a show.
“I was very excited about doing that,” she said.
“I left the arts center, but the option to have a show was available for me, so it’s just a wonderful thing to have my exhibit here.”
Though she has no formal art education, Fultz has enjoyed community-based art classes in many different mediums since the ’70s, and has spent countless hours on YouTube and blogs, learning techniques and processes from professional artists.
She is a regular picker at thrift stores and yard and estate sales.
For her, few things are too far gone to be reclaimed and turned into art that is beautiful and serves a completely different purpose.
“My art is very eclectic,” Fultz said.
“What inspires me is when I’m junking or antiquing or going to garage sales and I see something that looks forlorn and beat up. I try to envision what else it could be and how I could change it to make it into something that’s art worthy.”
She said sometimes pieces will sit in her studio for a year or two before inspiration strikes.
“I might be watching a YouTube video and see someone doing something and think that’s perfect for an item I have,” Fultz said.
“Sometimes, it comes from conversations with friends.”
The exhibit features about 50 pieces that were created within the past year.
“There is a lot of decoupage, resin pouring, a lot of old windows and old globes I turned into lights,” Fultz said.
“Even a couple of my paintings I’ve painted over the top of something else and changed the background.”
She said words are important. Her paintings have messages under the paints.
“Most of my paintings start out on a blank canvas and I write in Sharpie pen all over the canvas,” Fultz said.
“I feel like when you really put your heart and soul into art, it exudes that to whoever is looking at it. People who are in tune to art know that you get a feeling from the really great stuff, so I feel if I put my heart in written word onto a canvas or piece, then it comes forward.”
The show also features furniture that has been repurposed into functional art.
“I like to refinish furniture, but I don’t do it in a typical fashion,” Fultz said.
“I took an old bench that has been in somebody’s yard for years, stripped it down to bare wood and painted it and put peonies on it.
“Now, it’s very artful.”
She said she likes to paint furniture and make it more than basic.
“I have my coffee table that’s made out of an old window and it fits with the theme so nicely,” Fultz said.
“I also have a garden bench and a cedar chest on legs that are beautiful.”
Fultz said she chose to arrange the show by collections.
“For almost a year now, every time I pick up a pencil or pen, a poppy comes out, so I have a whole section of poppies,” she said.
“I have a peacock section and a paper section, where I’ve decoupaged paper onto whatever I feel like needs it.”
The exhibit also features Fultz’s trademark memory trees, a painting project she’s been working on for 10 years.
“This is where I create the tree and show the root system underneath, and then people can write memories on it or they can write favorite sayings,” she said.
“I really love those.”
She said grouping the pieces creates a more comfortable atmosphere.
“It puts you at ease, so it’s not just a hodgepodge of things everywhere,” Fultz said.
“Sometimes, God has a plan and a theme in different times of our lives, and I think the collections, being like they are, are different phases in my creative life.”
She added that for people who see her work, the hope is that they see that lives and situations can change.
“I changed things from bound to the trash to what I think is beautiful artwork,” Fultz said.
“I want them to see the possibilities that are out there at yard sales or thrift stores, and for very little, you can update something to make it beautiful for your home.”
Godin said Fultz is a vibrant and dynamic person and who is deeply reflected in the artworks she creates.
“Jen’s show theme and title are ideal since she loves to give new life to items many would no longer want,” she said.
“Jen sees the beauty hidden within and is eager to help others see the same beauty she does. Her passion, love of people and deep faith in God exude from her pieces.”
Godin said Fultz’s work is full of vibrancy.
“She’s very passionate and everything is deeply meaningful in her creation, whether it’s something fresh and brand new, repurposed using new and old, or it’s completely repurposed,” she said.
“There’s a very deep-seated meaning behind it and I think that’s something that’s very special.”
Godin added that the exhibition is a wide-ranging display of artworks.
“She shows the artistry within each piece and that’s really important, because art comes in so many forms,” she said.
“After the past year, we’ve realized that expression and art and a way to show creativity are something that is such a need for anyone regardless if they’re an expert or a novice.”
Godin would like those who see the show to experience a sense of home, positivity and peace.
“I think that’s what it will give people,” she said.
“With the furniture and windows, there are components that give people a domestic feel. I think going through it, it will be a very serene experience instead of something that’s super wild or flashy. This exhibit will give people a really great reliability with the work that she has.”
For those unable to attend the exhibition, a video tour is available at the Community Arts Center of Cambria County’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.
An opening reception was held Friday to celebrate the exhibit and included an artist’s demonstration with Fultz and a gallery talk.
Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.
There is no admission fee.
For more information, call 814-255-6515 or visit www.caccc.org.