Local Business “Recycles” Glass Through Art in Rowan County

by | Jan 19, 2022 | Greenspace

Nestled in Downtown Salisbury on W Bank Street is the Grievous Gallery. In my experience, The Grievous Gallery is a melting pot of free spirits and a place to heal and witness eccentric and local art.“You don’t build a business, you build people, then people build the business.”-Zig Ziglar. The people are what makes this place a business. Small businesses are the heart of our community. They are also more sustainable than a chain as most of their products are locally sourced, creating a circular economy. The Grievous Gallery has shattered what we thought we knew about recycling and repurposing through local businesses.

I heard that people were bringing their glass bottles there as a solution to the lack of curbside glass collection in Salisbury. With my interest in recycling and green spaces, I investigated and learned that the glass is used as a medium for artistic expression. The purpose of the glass bottle is to shatter against a designated wall, rather than making its journey to the landfill, or the roadside. To take it a step further, you can grab a permanent marker and write out your thoughts and feelings on the glass. Good things, bad things. It doesn’t matter. No one will know except you, the artist.

When I visited the gallery, I felt anything, but grievous. Surrounded by eclectic art, I got to speak with Timothy about life and the gallery. Timothy, one of the creative minds behind the space, explained to me that the gallery is a place where you can heal internally through the breaking of glass. This is a place for everyone, from all walks of life.

This art medium goes way back for Timothy, as a youth in L.A. where some friends would break glass because of the appealing sound and because… it’s fun. They aren’t wrong. Timothy added that The Gallery is a place where people can make a mess without the burden of cleaning up.

I was able to throw glass during my visit. It was a space where I could break physical and emotional boundaries outside of my normal life. It is not often when I am given the opportunity to break glass on purpose. The last time I recall doing that, I look back on my youth similarly to Timothy. Coming across stray bottles and finding the right tree to bash it against with friends. The excitement is so worth the risk of mom not finding out. Sorry Mom.

While this concept is great and ties into the local glass market, Timothy mentioned that the bottle collection can be somewhat of a challenge due to the persistent issue of contamination. This shines a light on a major issue that the recycling industry faces. Sometime in the future, they intend to make collection guidelines more specific for participating re-re-recylcers to make this process safer and more efficient.

“Re-re-recycling” is a term that Timothy brought to light that describes the journey of the bottles. The bottles are taken to the gallery by community members, where they are used as a medium to blow off some steam. It doesn’t stop there. The shards are then salvaged for art pieces that exemplify the expression of participants, giving the glass purpose after processing. Timothy mentions some pieces might not shatter completely. A part will remain intact containing a word or sentence. Turning the piece into a symbolic art piece that Timothy might salvage and cherish.

Timothy mentioned that in the future, The Gallery has hopes to invest in a GLSand Bottle Crusher to process the shards. These machines are not common on the East Coast but are popular in California. The sand could have countless applications, including beach restoration projects. Glass is the product of heat and sand. Why wouldn’t we shape it to its natural form if we could?

“This isn’t something people need. It’s something they deserve… Hope and freedom is found back there.” Covid times have proven to be stressful. Breaking glass can be a way to relieve some of that stress and a way for us to return to innocence. It preserves space in our landfills, which can save our green spaces and quality of life. The Grevious Gallery will be moving locations sometime in the near future, but be on the lookout for a new space. I ask that you visit and check out some great art, blow off some steam, or contribute your glass bottles today if you are in the Rowan County/ Salisbury area and are looking for “A way to have so much fun.”

About The Author

Madison Kluge

You might see me on the city of Salisbury’s greenways sporting a pair of rainbow roller skates! I officially graduate(d) May 2021 from the Environment & Sustainability program at Catawba College and I have/will soon take on the role as Salisbury’s Sustainability Coordinator. At Catawba, I researched the Emerald Ash Borer for a couple of years, spearheaded campus composting, and became heavily involved with environmental education planning. My goal as a connector is to establish a non-formal greenspace pedagogy with you and navigate the great outdoors by engaging with a variety of local farmers, NPO’s, parks, trails, preserves, educational institutions, and sustainable events. I will also explore available technologies/ apps that enhance our experience of the great outdoors in plant and animal identification and citizen science initiatives. To my fellow nature and environmental enthusiasts: get to know Rowan County better with me in the evolving greenspaces. Let’s get dirt under our nails!