Exhibit Shows Off Wreaths Made Up of Unusual Materials

Some unusual materials are being used to decorate dozens of wreaths at an exhibit now on display in Manhattan.

Lost gloves, bottle caps, power strips. Not exactly what you would expect to be found in a wreath, unless it's part of the Parks Department's 33rd annual Wreath Interpretations exhibit at The Arsenal in Central Park.

"As the years have gone by, they have gotten quirkier and quirkier, more creative, and people have really kind of broadened their reach in terms of the different types of materials and ideas, also, that they are addressing through their wreaths," saod Jennifer Lantzas, deputy director of public art with the Arsenal Gallery Program.

Case in point: this one made up by staff from the Department of Health. Yep. Those are 296 wrapped, expired condoms.

"We feel like by putting condoms front and center in an art exhibit, we are reminding people to use them," said Dr. Julie Myers, director of HIV prevention at the Department of Health.

There are 48 wreaths in all, selected from some 100 submissions - some political, others tackling controversial topics. Some are more whimsical, like one made by Leonora Retsas using hundreds of Q-tip cotton swabs.

"I try to take an element that we use every day or see every day, something small, and transform it in a way that it's going to make something that's a whole," Retsas said.

The wreath designs have become so unique over the years that the Parks Department hardly ever gets any proposals for traditional ones anymore."

One wreath has some traditional elements, but it is still not your classic wreath. It was put together by horticulturists from the Randall's Island Park Alliance.

"Most people think of Randall's Island as, oh, athletic fields, or, you know, the wastewater treatment plant. But we actually have quite a few beautiful gardens on the island, and we wanted this wreath to showcase those gardens," said Jill Gall, a horticulturist for the Randall's Island Park Alliance.

To see more of this free holiday tradition up close, head to the Arsenal weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through January 7.

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