Imagination Journals

By Kathryn Trumbull Fimreite at the Chicago Creative Reuse Exchange


Create a recycled-paper journal and reimagine our world as full of resources and inspiration.

Talk with your family

As you make your journal, talk with your family about how reusing and recycling materials can help us take care of ourselves and our communities. Do you ever feel like the world is empty or boring? Do you ever feel like you don’t have enough things or the right things to express yourself? Artists can teach us how to see the world as full of resources and possibilities, even when it looks dull or lacking.

Try out these words in your conversation:

Surplus—materials that are left over after a project is finished or after no one else wants to buy them

Example: Stores sell surplus Halloween candy for half the original price on November 1.

Abundance—when there are plenty of good things

Example: The empty lot next door isn’t so empty; it’s full of an abundance of native plants and animals.

Fill your journal

Once you’ve made your journal, start filling it with observations and explorations of your surroundings. Take a look at artists in The Long Dream exhibition who use materials close at hand and focus on their own bodies and homes as spaces of artistic exploration.

Tips and tricks

Start by making a list of what is in abundance around you. Does your family have a lot of plastic grocery bags lying around? How about old T-shirts? Are there interesting weeds or grasses or tree leaves on the sidewalk by your house? Can you hear an abundance of noises from your house?

About the Author

This activity was created by Kathryn Trumbull Fimreite at the Chicago Creative Reuse Exchange (CCRx).

CCRx fosters creativity and environmental stewardship by reimagining and redistributing surplus. Their core business is teaching and modeling “creative reuse” by supporting and inspiring Chicago’s educational community—teachers, nonprofits artists, community groups—and connecting them with surplus materials, supplies, and equipment donated by businesses and individuals. CCRx believes “trash is just a failure of the imagination” and their goal is for creative reuse to become an integral part of Chicago’s infrastructure.

Kathryn Trumbull Fimreite is a Chicago-based visual and teaching artist whose work addresses memories and lived experiences. Her practice is a hybrid of studio time and arts education, and she has been actively involved with Creative Chicago Reuse Exchange (CCRx) for the past few years.


Make your journal

Download these instructions to learn how to use recycled materials to create a special journal to spark your imagination.

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