A South Jersey county is asking artists to create trolls made from recycled materials

Burlington County officials are looking to promote art and recycling with a new Troll Trek initiative.

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Giant troll made out of recycled material

Big Rusty, the giant recycled troll in Burlington County. (Courtesy David Levinsky, Burlington County Public Information Office)

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A South Jersey county is trying to find some friends for a giant troll made from recycled material.

“Big Rusty” is more than 20 feet high. Danish artist Thomas Dambo created the troll with metals and wood.

Now Burlington County officials are calling on artists to be inspired by Big Rusty and design and build their own trolls from natural or reusable materials. These trolls would be on display in various parts of Burlington County, said Burlington County Commissioner Allison Eckel.

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Eckel said the Troll Trek project is designed to raise awareness about sustainability and “reduce what we use and repurpose, what we use to keep it out of landfills, but it’s also about keeping ourselves connected to each other and connected to the earth, so art plays a big part of community building and awareness.”

She said she hopes the project will bring awareness to what we are consuming  every day, “where that has to go currently, where that can go in the future, and what we need to do collectively to address that.”

Lynn Lemyre, program coordinator of the Burlington County Arts, Culture and Parks program, said the plan is to commission 13 additional trolls in local parks, downtowns and other public locations, starting this fall.

“It seemed like a great way to link Burlington County through art to hit on the whole idea of recycling, making beautiful things out of things that are ugly,” she said.

An example of a troll sculpture built from natural or recycled materials from the WaldMenschen Sculpture Trail in Feieburg, Germany. (Courtesy Matthew W. Setzer, Atlas Obscura user)

Lemyre said promoting art in this way “is a great engine for economic prosperity, it employs a lot of people through tourism, and helps artists be able to support themselves.”

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Lemyre said individual artists as well as artist teams can participate in the Troll Trek project, and the trolls themselves can be doing all sorts of things in all sorts of places.

“I could see trolls hanging from trees, sitting on rooftops,” she said. “It’s going to be a little bit of a ‘Where’s Waldo?’ kind of a situation.”

Eckel, who also serves in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Local Government Advisory Committee, said the group is focused this year on “plastics pollution prevention, and how local governments can help the federal government be informed of what we’re facing on the local level.”

She said specific guidelines for creating the trolls are on the Burlington County website.

Allison Eckel
Burlington County Commissioner Allison Eckel announces the Troll Trek initiative. (Courtesy David Levinsky, Burlington County Public Information Office)

A panel will review artist proposals and selected artists will receive $500.

The initiative is being funded with monies awarded to Burlington County from the New Jersey Arts Council, as well as several towns and organizations.

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