Justin Border’s “stash.” is a communal artistic expression, blending lockdown haze and repurposed objects


‘Still Life’ by Jen Appell. // Courtesy the artist.

Like many of us, artist Justin Border became overwhelmed by pressure to use his time wisely/productively during ‘quar. Border had been collecting numerous materials as a part of his artistic practice and finally wanted to put his collection to use.

As a child, Border collected action figures and cartoon figurines. He was fascinated by the invented mythologies of these characters and was as interested in the graphics on the toys’ packaging as he was in the toys themselves.

In college, Border sold collected cigarette boxes with his drawings of cartoonish characters on them in repurposed cigarette vending machines. He began experimenting with collaging National Geographic magazines gifted from his Granny Pat around the same time.

“I was raised to repurpose things-to use my imagination to transform and reinvigorate objects into something new,” Border says.

Border wanted to share the collection of his artistic material with others and “stash.” came to life. The first 25 artists to respond to an artist call via social media received some of Border’s collection through the United States Postal Service. Each artist was required to use all materials received within a singular original work. However, other mediums within the artists’ own supplies could be used within the piece.

“After a month from receiving their materials, each artist photographed their work and returned the digital image(s) to me through email with a description of their own personal experience with the materials they have potentially collected, hoarded, coveted or not,” Border says.

It was requested for the artists to share their creative experiences while staying at home.

Artist Jen Appell from Kansas City, MO was gifted fabric, corks, film, envelope and art book pages. The fabric was knitted together with pencils and the corks were carved into mushrooms to make her piece Still Life.

Appell almost lost her mother to COVID-19 in April 2020. Appell’s mother was intubated and medically unconscious and Appell had made the decision to take her mother off of life support. The hospital allowed Appell to be with her mother in the ICU so they could be together when she took her last breath.

However, Appell’s mother began to heal and within ten days she was released back to her long-term care facility where she received therapy instead of the expected hospice care.

“Without a doubt, my mom’s wholly unexpected recovery is due in part to the hospital letting me be there,” Appell says, “Reminding her that there was still something to live for.”

Throughout this difficult time, Appell found peace in the stillness, which is how she named her piece.


Natalie Beer’s piece. // Courtesy the artist.

“The death of one experience fertilizes the growth of another,” Appell says, “And wild, wonderful things do grow.”

Artists including Kansans Natalie Beer and Beth Barden, are included in the project.

According to Border’s website, a future “stash.” project will arrive in fall 2021.

Categories: Art