Artist in Residence - Recology
California Cont.


The Artist in Residence Program at Recology San Francisco is a unique art and education program that provides Bay Area artists with access to discarded materials, a stipend, and a large studio space at the Recology San Francisco Transfer Station. By supporting artists who work with recycled materials, Recology hopes to encourage people to conserve natural resources and promote new ways of thinking about art and the environment.

Since 1990, over 145 professional artists and 40 university student artists have completed residencies, making art from discarded materials. The studio is located at the San Francisco Transfer and Recycling Center (Recology San Francisco), a 46-acre facility that includes the Transfer Station (where trash goes before being sent to landfill), the Household Hazardous Waste Facility, the Organics Wing, the Public Disposal and Recycling Area (“the dump”), and other recycling areas. The facility, which is located west of Highway 101 near the former site of Candlestick Park, is also home to a three-acre sculpture garden containing work by former artists-in-residence.

During their four-month residencies, artists have scavenging privileges and 24-hour access to the company’s well-equipped art studio. Artists speak to elementary school classes and adult tour groups about the experience of working with recycled materials. At the conclusion of their residency, Recology hosts a three-day, public exhibition and reception of their completed artwork. Artists contribute pieces to the program’s permanent collection, and these artworks continue to be shown in off-site exhibitions that promote recycling and reuse.

Program Mission

Learn more about the program and its history:
Art at the Dump: The Artist in Residence Program and Environmental Learning Center at Recology is a 122-page book published in 2015 in honor of the twentieth-fifth anniversary of the program. It features the work of the 106 artists who participated from 1990 to 2015. This is the second edition of the book, which was originally published in 2010.


Team Mailing Address
Deborah Munk: (415) 330-1415
Micah Gibson: (415) 330-1414
Sharon Spain: (415) 330-0747
Felisia Castaneda: (415) 330-9943
Artist in Residence Program
501 Tunnel Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94134





Photo left: Jo Hanson, founder of the Artist in Residence Program at her home on Buchanan Street in San Francisco, 1989 (photo by Lori Eanes).

Listen to Richard Kamler’s radio interview with Jo Hanson at ArtTalk.

The Artist in Residence Program at Recology was established in 1990 at the same time that recycling was being implemented in the city and county of San Francisco as a result of 1989 state law AB 939. This law required all jurisdictions in California to divert at least fifty-percent of their waste from landfills by the year 2000. Counties were required to have a County Solid Waste Management Plan to achieve this state-mandated goal, and as a result, the Solid Waste Management Program (SWMP) was formed in San Francisco.

Part of San Francisco’s plan was to design an education program to promote recycling and resource conservation. The SWMP and Recology San Francisco (then known as San Francisco Sanitary Fill Company) worked together to create informational ads and brochures about recycling, develop classroom presentations, and organize tours of recycling plants. The goal was to teach people how to use curbside recycling bins and to encourage source reduction in order to promote a general awareness of how recycling helps protect the environment. Conceived by Jo Hanson, the Artist in Residence Program was the most innovative element of the education plan and the first program of its kind in the United States. Jo was a guiding force for the program and served as a member of the program’s board from 1990 until she passed away in March, 2007.

Jo Hanson came to prominence in the early 1970s in San Francisco as an artist and activist and was a pioneering spirit in both the environmental and feminist art movements. After moving into a dilapidated Victorian house on Buchanan Street which she restored to landmark status, Hanson turned her efforts toward cleaning up her litter-strewn streets. Her personal act of sweeping one sidewalk turned into a celebrated public art practice and city-wide anti-liter campaign, Over time Hanson expanded her work beyond her neighborhood, and organized community street sweepings, a children’s anti-litter art campaign for City Hall, and led a famous bus tour of San Francisco street dumping sites. Hanson’s community-inclusive strategies set precedents in public “ecoart,” created models for younger artists, and provided a representational voice in City Hall for those living in disenfranchised neighborhoods.

As a San Francisco Arts Commissioner for six years, Hanson championed the inclusion of underrepresented women and artists of color in the City’s art collections. She was instrumental in the Arts Commission’s restoration of the Coit Tower murals and the acquisition of artwork for the San Francisco International Airport. Hanson was also a driving force behind the preservation and restoration of Lucien Labaudt’s WPA-era murals at the Beach Chalet.

In the late 1980s Hanson suggested to Recology and the City of San Francisco that they develop an artist-in-residence program at the city dump which would offer studio space and stipends for emerging and established artists to create artwork from the waste stream and raise public awareness about environmental issues. Now more than twenty years later, the Artist in Residence Program has been nationally recognized and awarded, and countless artists, children, and adults have benefited from Jo Hanson’s vision.