Wear Recycle

September 2008 - December 2012

Wear Recycle stands for the Wear-ing down of Recycle-d behavior patterns. It is a process based collaborative art directive that focuses on understanding how behavior patterns affect success in life. The goal of Wear Recycle is to create a path way to positive change that can be passed down and move fluidly through disciplines. Watts is the Lead Artist and Producer of Wear Recycle. +100 people have possitively impacted Wear Recycle.

Logo Design: Cat Savello. Model: Patricia Gallagos. Hair Stylist: Valarie Zwahlen. Makeup: Samantha Henrikson. Assistant: Morgan Zwahlen. Photographer, Sculptor: Nicky Watts


Wear Recycle started out as a photo pitch to a potential client who turned down the proposal.  At the time, in 2008, I was a professional photographer, not a conceptual artist. The company wanted a creative way to present portraits of his team in his office that touched on Vegas show history and presented the over all mood of the green environmentally conscious movement, which was gaining a little momentum in Vegas. I had been experimenting with sculpting recycled paper a few months earlier, so I thought I could incorporate that. I visualized creating head pieces out of recycled paper that could be worn in the portraits. We talked about shooting it at the Hoover Dam, too. The owner turned down the idea and we didn't end up working together. The images were burned in my head and a couple months later, I started to produce those images. After the first plaster casting of a model, I knew this was going to be a larger project and that it was some how going to be about people. I let the process take charge and watched. I didn't know how large it was going to be when I started. Wear Recycle may take a lifetime to complete. I put it down for a while, but it'll be back.

Below, you have the names of the different series being produced under Wear Recycle. If you click on their names, a drop down will tell you about the individual series and its contributions. Torn Apart was originally Wear Recycle, but as the project grew, separation needed to happen. Wear Recycle is the name of the project and now Torn Apart is the name of the series that is that sun of this project. Everything revolves around Torn Apart. The project has had national and international collaboration and patronage. Each one was named as a contributor, below. On this site, there is a list of those who have contributed and soon, a more comprehensive site devoted to Wear Recycle will give a description of how each contributor played a role in the project. The idea of this project was that everyone was just as important as anyone else, time contributed for time, including with me. Everyone gets credit for what they do and the only reason my name shows up more is because I contributed more energy and time. The hope was that everyone owned it, but only a few people really did that; Patricia Blauvelt and Cat and Denise Savello. They were solid pillars in the early stages and they internalized it more so then any other collaborators.

Wear Recycle: Torn Apart

The series that started it all! Torn Apart is a sculpture and photography series in which I break down used paper into mush and spread it back out to large pieces of hand made recycled paper. I cast people's body parts and use this cast as the base for a recycled paper sculpture then I create a recycled paper sculpture on top of the cast. For Wear Recycle; Torn Apart, I shoot the domcumentation in 8x10 negatives and digital. The 8x10 negatives will produce prints on large pieces of the recycled paper while the digital is used for various other reasons, as you'll see. Conceptually, I use the process of breaking down the recycled paper as a metaphor to understand negative behavior patterns and healing broken emotional foundation. Different ways that one impacts the sculpture through the process of making paper is parallel to how an individual is impacted as an adult, by their experience and interactions as a child.

The Wear Recycle Poster Show Series

Kim Leja-Atwood of the Elephant Room Gallery, INC in Chicago asked me to do a solo show in January 2010 at her gallery. Wear Recycle: Torn Apart was nowhere near ready or appropiate for the situation so we decided on a poster show. It was within the process of producing The Wear Recycle Poster Show; Seasons, that I began to see the behavior pattern exploration within the paper making and sculpting. Seasons and working with Kim gave me an outlet to make sense of the strange corrolations I was finding between the paper and people. Being the first one, Seasons didn't really show the findings that the process unfolded, but the second poster show, Nice Never Lasts: Wear Recycle Poster Show deeply explored the protectionist pattern to not trust niceness as a genuine beingness, that which was a deep pattern I was struggling to understand in myself.

The Wear Recycle Theories

As the project developed, and behavior patterns were being recognized one by one, I needed a way to express the connections I was finding. I called these the Wear Recycle Theories. A Wear Recycle Theory is an identified behavior that is a potencial source of patterns that are in need of understanding further. These patterns that are identified stand out as impactful on my life. Using public interaction and creative means to document the process, I explore my patterns based on the Wear Recycle Theories that are discovered, within these mini art projects within Wear Recycle the project. Nice Never Lasts: Wear Recycle Poster Show Series, is a great example. The theory was that Nice Never Lasts and that it wasn't to be trusted. I began the "research" or art exploration around this topic thinking I was going to learn that niceness can be trusted and I'm ridiculous for not trusting niceness. I finished it thinking that each case really has to be judged individually, sometimes, nice doesn't last. Some people who come off as nice, have alternative motives and I really need to spend time with people to know them and their source of niceness. Other theories I explored were The Need to be Needed and The Ignored Theory but no bid project came out of them. Nicky Watts in a Box and its deep exploration of emotional isolation is derived from these theories. This process changed the course of my work as a whole and it'll never be the same. The examples of work are any project I do that explores behavior patterns.

Livin Performances

Livin Performances are a type of duration performance that is a minimum of three days long. Each performance explores a specific behavior pattern and has a series of guidelines defining the performance which are set by the artist. Everything that happens within the three days is to be used to refer back to the behavior pattern being explored in the performance. Guidelines and an anouncement of the performance is to be publicly decleared no later then 24 hours in advance of the start of the performance. In the three national tours that I underwent for Wear Recycle and Nicky Watts in a Box, I performanced over twenty Livin Performances all over the country. In the future when I hire my designer for an update, this section will get photos. Any photo with me wearing a box on my head is a Livin Performance. Those types of performances started here in Wear Recycle. I made them up, made up the rules, and have been performing them ever since. At least one other person has attempted to conduct a Livin, but she didn't quite get the rules, so it didn't fit. The effort and intention was there, it was Melissa Balin of the Wall Protests Movement.

Wear Recycle: Mediums Explored

In Wear Recycle: Mediums Explored, I experiemented with different options for sculpting with the recycled paper including using different sealants, paints, and glues so that I can move forward with the Zappos sculpture and finish the project in Torn Apart. Some of the installation have involved collaboration and others have been solo. The installation in the window of the Contemporary Arts Collective (CAC) in Las Vegas honored those who had worked on the project. The red dots stood for how many people participated in the Wear Recycle project separated into clusters that represented each year that passed; the orange dots on the ground represented how many days the project was active since it's first photoshoot, and the white respesented the future growth of the project. I experimented with spray paint on the paper not strained through water. The paper was put in dots and some of the dots did break in transportation, but would not have under more care in travel. These are the types of understanding I'm seeking with using the paper, how the actual medium works and then paying attention to conceptual relevancy of them breaking apart when they're not cared for responsibly. I consider how that reflects real life. There were many Mediums Explored studies.

Wear Recycle: Moments Captured in Time

These are the digital images from the photoshoot. These are the photos that waere used to create the posters for The Wear Recycle Poster Shows. Wear Recycle: Moments Captured in Time are the images, themselves. They are the documentation and result of a series of interactions that gave me the opportunity to reevaluate my way of communicating and connecting with people, especially in a collaborative work environment. This was one of the first processes when Wear Recycle started and was the beginning of where I linked the project with people. These were key interactions and developed key relationships. Actually, Valarie Zwahlen, the hair stylist from this series, is still my hairstylist. She has made me much more successful in what I do because of sharing her talents (you can hire her in Vegas: 702-481-3913. She's done most of my really great hair styles. It was about the building of these relationships and observing my reactions to people within them that paved the way for behavior patterns to be the main focus in all my work.


There will be a Wear Recycle website, eventually. It's actually already made but I didn't like the homepage so I never launched it. I may have lost it, but I hope not. It's in progress, so check back.


The project wouldn't have been successful without the +100 people who participated and/or contributed to Wear Recycle with me. To credit everyone who made a difference to the outcome of this project, there are two categories of collaborators to thank: those who gave their time and their craft and those who gave trade or financial support.


Creative collaborators

Catherine Savello

Patricia Blauvelt

Rich Castro

Mark Fierro

Brent Holmes

Kim Leja-Atwood

Kyana Holzman

Valarie Zwahlen

David Veliz

Amos Martinez

Richard King

Shannon Kidwell

Joe Kellenberger

Meleina Hancock

Denise Savello

Aurora King

3 Bad Sheep

Alex Huerta

Bernie Floss

Gia Ray

Crystal “Cici” Solis

Selecta Scream

Doug Ecks

John Wotell

KD Matheson

Maria & Scott Vandermolen

Project collaborators and supporters

AccuShred and State

Paper and Metal

Alex Frasier

Alissa Jockett

Ari Eberlin

Amanda Pazi

Aspen Communications

Benjamin Johnson

Betina Vazquez

Billie Jean Tuomi

Brett Wesley Sperry

Brian Walker

Camille De Guzman

Carl Bowersox

Carlo Roncancio

Chef Ifayomi

Chris Campagna

Chris Markin

Cristina Hlusak

Christie Swiczkoski

Crystal Bowersox

Cindy Vilagram

Dane Huffman

Drew Wilson

Debbie MacKarell

Dimitri Karam

Edd Noris

Edward Samual

Brettell V

Ellie Barnett

Evan Bargiel

Enchanted Florist

Ensemble Arts Academy

Erika Duetch

Farmer Kelly

FG Middlebrook


Frankie May

Fresh & Easy

Gail Outlaw

Gama Print

Gina Quaranto

Graphics West

Home Depot

Imran Omar

James Atwood

Jamilah Adebes

James Wong

Javier Saavedra

Jeff Brown

Jeka Pazi

Jesse Smigel

Jing Song

Joe Witkowski

John Verville

Jon Paul Raniola

Julaine Dilling

Lauri Tanner

Luke Zamenek

Kacey McCreery

Kat Fitzgerald

Lance Mazmania

Mari-vi Ortiz

Mary Marriot

Mike Lavero

Mike Mason

Monica Fladvad

My Life

Paco Alvarez

Pauly Burke

Paul Hanni

Pavan Bapu

Peter Hales

Pekka Kola

Polly Weinstein

Pam Lafrancois

Preator Consulting, LLC

Princess Anne

Red Color Creative

R. Hanel Photography

Rick Stump

Robin Hill Studios

Rude Dog

Ryan at Artifice

Ryan Suzuka

Sam's Club

Sean Jones

Stefani Izquierdo

Susan Tosches-Deneau

Tara Potter

The Arias Group

The Theta Tree

The Village Idiots

The Thompson family

Tony Kusian

Taylor Communications

Whole Foods

Zhe Zhang