ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Now more than ever, most of us have gotten pretty good at recycling. From plastic water bottles to newspapers and cans, we know the importance of setting things aside so they can be reused.

And in one case in St. Paul, those items are being reused as art.

All kinds of old things have found new life in an art exhibit that just opened on the campus of Metro State University.

“It is a transformation, truly. If I take all the objects that were going to be tossed away, thrown in the garbage, and ending up in a landfill and then taking them and putting them together to create art,” said artist Jan Elftmann.

On the third floor of the campus library, you’ll find the Gordon Parks Gallery. It’s named after the famous photographer who spent much of his adult life in St. Paul.

Inside the gallery is Material Memory: The Art of Recycling. It features the work of two Minneapolis artists: Alan Wadzinski and Elftmann.

You may know Elftmann from her work on those art cars that roam the streets of the Twin Cities.

“What I am doing is called assemblage. That is assembling objects to create a form. It is similar to collage, which is 2D. Assemblage is 3D, a French term, which has been around for a hundred years,” Elftmann said.

One piece by Alan Wadzinski takes a pair of men’s shoes, some candle sticks and some large hair clips to create a gorgeous likeness of a giraffe.

“They take the most mundane materials — discarded farm tools, bobbly bits and incorporate them into beautiful works that sometimes serve functional purposes or convey deep meaning. There is always a moment of surprise,” said Erica Rasmussen, the curator at the gallery.

The Art of Recycling exhibit runs through Sunday, Nov. 6. It’s at the Gordon Parks Gallery on the campus of Metro State University in St. Paul. Admission is free.

For more information about the event, click here.