Donna Sylvester was driving down West Philadelphia Street in York one day when the sign for Dentsply's offices at Susquehanna Commerce Center got her thinking.
She wondered what it would be like to step inside the factory that makes dental products. Then she thought how interesting it would be to use scrap material and products from local factories to create works of art.
A call for artists last fall resulted in about a dozen proposals, seven of which were chosen. The five projects that reached completion are part of an exhibit Art + Industry that opens Thursday at the YorkArts gallery.
Sylvester contacted local companies to see if they were interested in working with artists. "They were just so forthcoming with their ideas and interest," she said.
She said her goal was to prompt local residents to re-imagine the area's manufacturing industry.
"We drive by these factories and industries, and unless you work there, you don't know what goes on inside there," she said. "This was chance for some of us who aren't employees to go into their facilities and be curious about what's going on in there."
Sylvester said looking at York's industrial landscape through artists' eyes gives the community a new appreciation for the processes and products that are created here. "I think we have changed the perceptions of everyone involved."
York landscape painter Carol Oldenburg used fasteners and metal turnings from Military & Commercial Fasteners to create two pieces.
The first, titled "Haircut," pairs a chair with metal scraps from the company's lathes. "The scraps looked like hair," she said. "I thought it was so cool, I had to do something with it."
Her other piece, titled "The Secure Connection," after the company's motto, uses a wheeled supply cart to hold a Plexiglas sheet with holes drilled in it.
Oldenburg said, "It's pretty simple, but it lets you join in instead of just viewing it."
George Cramer, vice president of marketing and commercial development for Adhesives Research in Springfield Township, said artist Elizabeth Lundberg Morisette of Colorado contacted company officials about using some of their materials for a work of art and it sounded like a fun project, so they invited her in.
"She walked around the shop and was excited with all the stuff she saw that we would typically call scrap," he said. "She saw it as an interesting medium to create something."
Lundberg Morisette used double-faced foam tape to create a vase-type shape that will become part of an installation piece in the YorkArts gallery. Cramer said employees would go to the gallery to help her put it together, "Just to share in the fun."
Christine Tillman of Baltimore responded to the call because she's fascinated with how art and industry are so different, yet similar.
"I've always been intrigued with how linked the two processes are; they're both making things," she said.
As a sculptor, she was interested in manmade materials, so she was paired with Graham Engineering, which makes machines that fashion plastic bottles.
"It seemed like a really natural fit," she said.
In March, she toured the company and learned she'd have to rethink her project.
"It became pretty clear to me that I wasn't going to be able to make an object. The machines they make are incredible, but beyond what I could work with not being an engineer."
Instead, she fashioned hand-cut patterns using theater gels and used an overhead projector to push light through the colored patterns into three areas of the plant -- the spray booth, cafeteria, and research and development lab.
"I wanted to make something really temporary that would transform the space," she said. "All you see is the leftover photographic documentation of them."
Penelope Grumbine of York Township fashioned two- and three-dimensional pieces from the valve forms and turbines manufactured by Voith Siemens Hydro. She cut repetitive paper patterns in the form of turbine blades and put them together in a 3-D sculpture.
"The turbines are very utilitarian, but I don't think the people who work there envision them as beautiful forms," she said.
Grumbine used paper because it's a renewable resource and the company's work has a lot to do renewable energy.
Cathy Breslaw of San Diego used industrial mesh produced by New York Wire Co. to create three-dimensional works inspired by the transparency of the material. Together, she calls them "Weightless."
"The whole project was just very exciting to me," she said. "It's a window for everyday people to understand art and make associations."
IF YOU GO
What: Art + Industry
When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday through Nov. 29. An opening reception will be 6 to 8 p.m.
Thursday at the YorkArts gallery.
Where: YorkArts gallery, 10 N. Beaver St., York
For details: Call 848-3200.
Glen Rock artisans Robert Machovec designed flowers for York's Foundry Park using old gears and sprockets from former local factories.
Fellow Glen Rock resident Thomas Moore, a blacksmith, fabricated them. The flowers represent the area's transition from an industrial powerhouse to the artistic hub that city officials are striving to create there.
The park, which opened in June, also boasts toadstools made from old electric engines; benches; two kiln stacks from a former Pfaltzgraff plant that will be used to fly banners and flags; and checkers tables made from used sprockets.