Sherrie Zeitlin’s passion for recycling art supplies began in art school.

“It was anything that was leftover that was being recycled into an art project,” the fiber and ceramic artist said. “That’s where I was sparked to open up this place when I could.”

Zeitlin worked as a guest artist in schools across Phoenix in the 1990s. That’s when she realized that there was a lack of materials and funding available for arts programs.

As a recycling center, the Art Resource Center is a nonprofit that collects reusable discards from individuals and industries and gives them to schools and other nonprofit entities for the purpose of making art.

“Nonprofit-to-nonprofit narrowed the scope of giving,” Zeitlin said, reflecting on her upbringing to give back to her community. “Working in the nonprofit world, working in schools as a special artist, I knew there was a great need.”

Zeitlin began the process in the early 1990s, encouraging classmates and students to recycle such materials as wrapping paper and newspapers. She opened the first Art Resource Center, or ARC, in a 400-square-foot space in Phoenix.

Today, ARC is inside a 4,000-square-foot warehouse in Tempe. It’s filled with traditional art supplies, such as paper, paint, fabric and more, plus other materials that can be recycled into art, including film canisters, plastic tubing and doll parts.

Mesa home-school teacher Candice Turalba says the center provides her and fellow teachers a variety of supplies they couldn’t afford otherwise.

“If somebody in the community has extra that they’re willing to give to somebody else, then we can use that in our creations,” Turalba said.

“It links us to the greater community,” she said. “We are also able to able to pass on what we don’t use to the Art Resource Center, knowing that we’re going to help somebody else. It meets our needs, but it also helps us with engaging in the community.”


Story by THALIA M. ESPAÑA, Cronkite News