Methane-powered foundry opens at JCGEP

The Jackson County Green Energy Park recently opened the first landfill methane-fueled art foundry in the world.

“Because of the increasing costs of fossil fuels, as well as the environmental impact of the fire arts in general, demonstrating that landfill gas can work in a foundry situation opens up new opportunities for the preservation of these art forms,” said Tracy Kirchmann, a Western Carolina University graduate student and assistant to JCGEP.

Kirchmann was a recent recipient of an honorable mention in the International Sculpture Center’s Outstanding Student Achievement Award.

The foundry was built to increase the versatility of the metals shop for incoming artist residents. The JCGEP metals shop has two studio spaces available for one to three-year residencies, and is also available for four-week residencies and internships year round. Resident artists share access to the 2,500-square-foot shop, which includes metal fabrication equipment, blacksmithing forges and the foundry.

As the JCGEP program develops, additional works will be shown onsite through an annual sculpture competition. This year’s selected piece, “Metamorphosis,” is a sculpture made of cor-ten steel by Waynesville artist Grace Cathey.

To date, JCGEP also has completed construction on a metals shop featuring a series of greenhouses, three blacksmithing forges, and a glassblowing studio that is slated to open this fall. The major appliances in each of these facilities utilize the landfill gas as their fuel source.

For more information, or to organize a tour of the JCGEP, call 828.631.0271.

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