Trash to Treasure: Transformed Bottle Caps Win Mayfest Youth Arts

Tulsa Master Recyclers Association

WINNING ARTISTS: Union High School Art Teacher Julie Skidmore and Junior Chloe Click accepted the $500 prize from PSO on behalf of the dozens of students who collaboratively created the winning piece for the 2017 Mayfest Youth Arts PSO Mark of Excellence Award. The painting utilized the mixed medium of acrylic paint, glue and upcycled plastic bottle caps.

BETH TURNER for GTR Newspapers

It took one inspired art teacher, two years of saving bottle caps, four months of work and one hundred art students to create the winning 2017 Mayfest Youth Arts entry.

Union High School Art Teacher Julie Skidmore led students through a group assignment she felt pays homage to our Native American history. “In Oklahoma, in Tulsa, and very much here at Union, we are proud of our Native American roots. So I feel this painting pays tribute to that honor, that pride and respect we feel today for our Native American ancestors.”

Skidmore says students in four regular art classes were at first daunted by the task ahead. “They each had 15 caps they meticulously painted to match tiny portions of the portrait’s sketch,” which Skidmore created. Art student Chloe Click laughingly said, “At first, we didn’t know what we were doing with all these bottle caps. Then, after we knew, I thought, ‘okay, but how are we going to get all this done?’ I still can’t believe how great it all came together.”

Student Aliza Harris had the job of gluing the caps in place for third hour students. “When my friends would bring me their caps, I thought they looked like they’d never match, they’d never work. But, I mean, Wow…I really didn’t expect it to look so great.”

Skidmore says she’s proud of how the students persevered throughout the process, and how they learned the power of collaboration, and is proud they learned that what they thought of as trash they see can become something new and beautiful. “I’m so proud of them. This is the first time many of them have seen how something like a bottle cap can become a winning art piece. They worked so hard, and that hard work paid off.”

Public Service Company of Oklahoma () sponsors the Mayfest Youth Arts Mark of Excellence Award and gave $500 to Skidmore who says she will spend the money on new art supplies for her students. “I want to thank for sponsoring and supporting our young artists. I am proud this award highlights our art program at Union, and the hard work put in by our dedicated students.”

Tulsan Inducted in National Recycling Hall of Fame
The National Waste and Recycling Association () recently inducted Tulsan Kenneth Burkett into their Hall of Fame for his “lifetime contribution to the waste and recycling industry.”

Burkett is founder of American Waste Association, Inc., better known to us as Mr. Murph, and owner of our Trash-to-Energy services at the Sand Springs landfill. says since 1987, Burkett “…has helped recycle more than a billion tons of material.”

also cited that non-recyclable material are, “…sent to a renewable energy landfill that Burkett purchased in 2000. That Sand Springs landfill converts methane gas to electricity, providing 3.2 megawatts of power to more than 18,000 Oklahomans daily.” Congratulations, Mr. Burkett!

Get Out and Get Involved
Summer is a great time to get out into the community, to engage with nature and become more invested in reasons why to recycle.

On Thursday, June 8 join Eddie Reese at Oxley Nature Center for a Tree Walk. Enjoy the stroll as you learn about their unique features and find out just how long it takes for a tree to get that big.

ros hosts Sustainability Crew meetings on the fourth Thursday of each month. Show up at 6:00 p.m., at Prairie Brew Pub located at 223 N. Main St. just down from Cain’s Ballroom.

Recycling Nerds Unite!
A co-worker just dropped off a bundle of used batteries for me to drop at The M.e.t. on my way home. This ensures another pile of batteries will be safely recycled. What a thrill this gives me! What fires you up about recycling? Tell me about it in an email at, or on Twitter @TrashTalkTulsa.

Updated 06-01-2017

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