Artist makes Handmade rugs created entirely out of once-loved stuffed animals
MIAMI (March 1, 2021) – Animal Rug Company (ARC) directed by artist and designer Agustina Woodgate - together with El Espacio 23 (EE23) and Goodwill South Florida - announces its official launch as a social enterprise focused on developing an equitable micro-economy in Miami’s Allapattah neighborhood. ARC repurposes synthetic toy pelts into luxurious floor coverings, with its new collection, Catastrophes, slated to be unveiled during Miami Art Week 2020. A percentage of the sales from the collection will be donated back to Goodwill South Florida to support job creation efforts for people with disabilities and other barriers in the community.
ARC’s Catastrophes collection is made up of four handmade rugs created entirely out of once-loved stuffed animals. Each rug references a natural disaster - hurricanes, wildfires, droughts and floods - and aims to emphasize the importance of sustainable practices while showcasing art’s positive impact on underserved communities.
“This year, ARC focused on the production of an entire collection, but most importantly, we were prototyping an economic model,” said Woodgate. For the process, Studio Woodgate worked with Goodwill’s team of creators to support their staff, while organizing a profit-share system and creative ecosystem to sustain the company long term. “Through this partnership, we created a sustainable economy and practice, setting up ARC as a socially and ecologically resilient enterprise.”
The project was made possible by a year long residency at EE23, an experimental art space in Allapattah dedicated to serving artists – like Woodgate – as well as curators and the general public, with public exhibitions and a variety of innovative projects. As part of the residency, Woodgate and the ARC team worked out of the sprawling 28,000-square-foot space to create the four 6 x 9 feet rug, spending 2-3 months on each. During the residency, ARC had access to EE23’s robust network of local artists and nonprofits, as well as other benefits.
“The opportunity to support intentional projects like ARC is exactly the kind of thing that sparked the idea for EE23,” said Jorge M. Pérez, founder of EE23. “Not only are we fostering world-class art, but we are proving just how powerful the arts industry can be in supporting overlooked communities as they work to create lasting positive change.”
Goodwill South Florida, located just a few blocks from EE23, played an equally pivotal role. With its mission of skills training and job placement for people with disabilities and other barriers, Woodgate was paired with Goodwill’s apparel manufacturing division, known for producing a large portion of U.S. military uniforms and interment flags. This collaboration gave ARC access to Goodwill’s team of highly skilled sewing operators. They were integral in the sourcing process, helping to collect hundreds of synthetic animals from it’s Goodwill Superstore in Allapattah, to be unstitched at community gatherings, and later converted into rugs by the ARC team.
“This collection is more than just artwork; it blends creativity, craftsmanship and philanthropy” said Lourdes de la Mata-Little, Vice President of Marketing and Development for Goodwill Industries of South Florida. “This project brings to life a shared vision of a better, with more steps taken for a sustainable future, during one of the most pivotal times in recent history”
ARC marks the latest community-focused effort to come out of EE23. Most recently, the space hosted its highly-anticipated inaugural exhibition – entitled Time for Change: Art and Social Unrest in the Jorge M. Pérez Collection – curated by Jose Roca. Less than a year since its opening, EE23 has also hosted several artists and curators across various stages in their career, with a diverse range of disciplines and ethnic backgrounds.
About Goodwill South Florida
Goodwill South Florida, serving Miami, Broward and Monroe counties, is the 17th largest employer in South Florida. The nonprofit’s mission is the training, employment and job placement of people with disabilities and other barriers to work; helping individuals increase productivity and achieve greater independence. The agency provides disability services to over 7,000 South Floridians. Goodwill engages in a unique social enterprise model that funds mission services and employment for over 3,100 persons. Although most known for its Goodwill donation centers and retail stores, the organization’s other entrepreneurial businesses include Ryder Apparel Manufacturing, Custodial Services, Laundry Services and Third Party Logistics Solutions, which train and employ a large number of people, while providing mission funding. Goodwill South Florida is one of the most cost-effective nonprofits in the U.S with 96 percent of its budget going directly to programs that are aimed at people with disabilities and other barriers to work. For more information, please visit goodwillsouthflorida.org or visit us on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.