“The Kindness sculpture project began as an inspiration to draw fantasy birds, inspired by my friend and artist, Tania Botelho at Sawyer Yards” said Kelly Penrod. “I drew one bird, and my granddaughter Olivia, at just three years old, named it "Kindness." Being a recycling enthusiast, I set out to challenge myself by bringing this bird to life using recycled materials. I started by creating larger posters of Kindness, highlighting its vibrant colors and unique features. But I desired to go beyond posters and create a three-dimensional sculpture that captured the essence of Kindness.”
"Kindness" is a purposeful sculpture aimed at raising awareness about the practice of kindness, both towards ourselves and others. It encourages us to acknowledge the challenges people face and to express kindness through simple acts like saying "hello," "thank you," or "please." Pendrod shares that “to give kindness to others, we must first cultivate it within ourselves. Fortunately, acts of kindness need not be grand; even a smile can make a difference. "Kindness" illustrates that the cumulative impact of these small gestures has the power to transform our world.”
She constructed the sculpture using recycled materials for her exhibition at the Brazosport Art League in Lake Jackson. “I began by locating a 5-gallon water bottle to serve as the sculpture's core, symbolizing the potential for kindness within each of us. I carefully placed letters inside the bottle, sharing messages about kindness to inspire compassion and kindness in others.”
The heart-shaped body is supported by oatmeal containers for the legs and pant cardboard from hangers for the toes. The wings are crafted from packing materials, and the crest is a repurposed old plant container that had rotted through the bottom and was destined for disposal; it was given new life to support Kindness' quills made from incense sticks. The eyes consist of plastic bottle lids, each bearing a reminder to practice kindness, covered in resin. The beak is fashioned from cardboard, and the body is covered with homemade papier-mâché made from egg cartons.
The remaining body is adorned with approximately 2,000 feathers, created from dried seed pods of the Cat's Claw Creeper vine found in a vacant field next to my house. Volunteers joined in to cut the seeds into feather shapes. The feathers symbolized small acts of kindness, emphasizing the power of collective effort for a common cause. These recycled materials breathe life into "Kindness" and symbolize the transformative potential of repurposing our resources.
For the bird's crown, an old metal pot was repurposed, giving it new life as a symbol of nurturing kindness. To add beauty and spirituality, the top of the bird was adorned with painted incense sticks, infusing the sculpture with tranquility and positivity.
“Using recycled materials as the medium for this artwork felt like the perfect choice. It serves as a metaphor for life itself - the idea that we are given resources and opportunities, and it is up to us to find creative ways to use them for the greater good. It reminded me that kindness, like recycled materials, can be transformed and repurposed to create something beautiful and meaningful.”
Penrod shared her love and passion for spreading kindness by dedicating this week to teaching 5th-grade art students on how to create their own "kindness" birds using recycled materials. Through hands-on workshops and creative guidance, these young minds were able to breathe life into their own symbolic representations of kindness. Penrod’s commitment to nurturing the next generation's creativity and empathy underscores the profound impact that art can have in promoting a culture of compassion and environmental responsibility. As these young artists proudly share their "kindness" birds, the ripple effect of kindness continues to spread, inspiring others on their own journey of creativity, recycling, and making the world a brighter, kinder place.
“In a world that often feels divided, "Kindness" stands as a radiant symbol of what we can achieve when we work together to make the world a brighter, kinder place—one smile, one "thank you," one act of compassion at a time.”
Kelly Penrod is an award-winning artist, who sees creativity as a primary factor in therapeutic and spiritual growth. She has given workshops on “Discovering Creativity through the use of Recycled Materials” at the Jung Center in Houston and the Art League in Lake Jackson.