Press Release

NYC Department of Sanitation Employees’ Talent Showcased in New Art Exhibit at Pace University Art Gallery Sponsored by Mack Trucks

November 11, 2021
Mierle Laderman Ukeles’ “Social Mirror” truck at 1 Pace Plaza.

“Sanitation Celebration,” an exhibit featuring art created by New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) employees, opened with a public reception on Nov. 14. Together, the Sanitation Foundation, the official nonprofit of DSNY, and Pace University Art Gallery are pleased to present this in-person art exhibit sponsored by Mack Trucks. Celebrating the talents of the DSNY workforce, who collect 12,000 tons of trash and recycling every day across New York City, the exhibition showcases diverse artworks in various media, including photography, video, sculpture, painting and more. Pieces included in the show were selected by Maggie Lee, the Foundation’s director of Cultural and Education Programs, sTo Len, DSNY’s new Public Artist-in-Residence, and Sarah Cunningham, assistant clinical professor and director of the Pace University Art Gallery. The show also features photographs, prints, and video from Len and Mierle Laderman Ukeles, the longtime DSNY artist-in-residence, along with selections from the “Treasures in the Trash” collection curated by retired DSNY worker Nelson Molina.

The exhibit is generously supported by Mack Trucks. DSNY and Mack Trucks have a long history of working together. Mack trucks make up the vast majority of DSNY’s heavy-duty fleet, which handles everything from refuse and recycling collection to snow removal.

“Mack Trucks is proud to sponsor the ‘Sanitation Celebration’ in support of Mack’s largest refuse customer, the New York City Department of Sanitation,” said David Galbraith, Mack vice president of global brand and marketing. “We are pleased that this exhibition showcases its employees’ artistic talents while also offering a unique glimpse into a side of the hard-working DSNY workers that is not often seen by the general population.”

Cunningham says, “We are thrilled to showcase the remarkable talent of the DSNY team here at Pace. As a whole, the three complementary parts of the exhibit highlight and celebrate the unseen labor that keeps NYC a vital and vibrant place while underscoring the ecological imperative to re-examine our culture of overconsumption.” She has worked with students enrolled in Pace’s Introduction to Museum and Curatorial Studies course to produce the exhibition with support from a Classroom-Based Research Award.

“Someone collects your trash every single day – but you may not know anything about them,” said Julie Raskin, executive director of the Sanitation Foundation. “This exhibit celebrates the creativity and talents of New Yorkers whose work is often invisible.” DSNY has long been a supporter of the arts: from working with Ukeles to create the first public artist-in-residence program in the country, to being an early supporter of Materials for the Arts, to hosting several employee art shows throughout the 1980s. The Sanitation Foundation continues in this tradition of celebrating the talents of the Department’s diverse workforce of almost 10,000 people all across New York City.

This year, DSNY is participating in the Department of Cultural Affairs’ Public Artist-in-Residence (DCLA PAIR) program, hosting Len, who also served on the selection committee for the “Sanitation Celebration” exhibit. He said, “It was a pleasure to see the art of these Sanitation employees and learn about their interests, techniques and inspirations. I'm honored to show my work alongside them and Mierle Laderman Ukeles.” The DCLA PAIR program is modeled in part on DSNY’s decade-spanning work with Ukeles, who remains the Department’s permanent artist-in-residence. Ukeles, from whose past work the exhibit title is inspired, says, “I’m so excited to show two very different kinds of artworks. First, DSNY's world-class landfill engineering team is completing the decades-long final closure of all four Fresh Kills mounds at the end of this year! Come see wonderful photos of DSNY's contribution to environmental progress! Also, I am so pleased to show my two video artworks from my citywide TOUCH SANITATION performance where, over the course of an entire year, I faced each of 8,500 sanitation workers in NYC during the fiscal crisis of the 1970s and said: “Thank you for keeping NYC alive!"

Also featured in the exhibit at Pace University Art Gallery is a selection from the “Treasures in the Trash,” a collection of more than 45,000 items assembled by Molina over 34 years along his route in East Harlem. “I always say that working in Sanitation is the greatest job in the world. I am very happy that this exhibit will celebrate the men and women who do this work and am honored to display pieces from my collection along with the work of my colleagues and with our artists-in-residence, Mierle and sTo.”

During the show’s opening reception, Mack Trucks awarded a special sustainability prize to Emilisa Robles, whose piece “Metal Moving Sculptures,” most effectively incorporated repurposed materials.

The exhibition will remain on view at 41 Park Row in Lower Manhattan through Jan. 28, 2022. Gallery hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 12:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m. and will be closed November 24-28, 2021 and December 23, 2021–January 1, 2022. During the exhibition, there will be a series of free special events, all open to the public, including:

Artist Talk by sTo Len
November 18, 2021, 11:00 a.m. (Zoom)

Tours of Treasures in the Trash at Manhattan East Garage
December 3, 2021, 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. (in-person)
To register, email

Artist Talk by Mierle Laderman Ukeles
December. 6, 2021, 11:00 a.m. (Zoom)

Upcycled Fashion Workshop
January 27, 2022, 3:30 p.m. (in-person)
Hands-on workshop in the gallery at 41 Park Row

About the Sanitation Foundation

The Sanitation Foundation, founded in 2016, is the official nonprofit organization of the New York City Department of Sanitation. Supported by private funding and in-kind donations, the Foundation leverages non-traditional strategies to promote sustainability and advance the essential services of Sanitation employees.

The Sanitation Foundation is supported, in part, by grants from Covanta Environmental Solutions, the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Con Edison, Bloomberg LP, ABNY, and the Closed Loop Foundation. We’d like to extend our deepest appreciation to all donors and friends of the Sanitation Foundation, who make our programs possible.

A core goal of the Sanitation Foundation is to create the first-ever Museum of Sanitation, to celebrate DSNY’s essential services for New York City, educate the public about waste and recycling, and promote environmental stewardship. The organization recently worked with Chora Creative on the first phase of strategic planning, including developing a mission and statement of purpose that will inform further market research and exhibition development. While it plans for a future museum, the Foundation also holds a variety of pop-up exhibits throughout the year. Donate or get involved.

About the NYC Department of Sanitation

The Department of Sanitation (DSNY) keeps New York City healthy, safe and clean by collecting, recycling and disposing of waste, cleaning streets and vacant lots, and clearing snow and ice. The Department operates 59 district garages and manages a fleet of more than 2,000 rear-loading collection trucks, 450 mechanical brooms and 705 salt spreaders. The Department clears litter, snow and ice from approximately 6,500 miles of City streets and removes debris from vacant lots as well as abandoned vehicles from City streets.

About the Pace University Art Gallery

Founded with the conviction that art is integral to society, the Pace University Art Gallery is a creative laboratory and exhibition space that supports innovation and exploration for both artists and viewers. Open to students, staff, and faculty from across the Pace campuses and, equally, to the Lower Manhattan community and visitors from around the world, the Art Gallery encourages personal investigation and critical dialogue via thought-provoking contemporary art exhibits and public programming. Enhancing the Art Department's BA and BFA programs, the Art Gallery offers students real-world opportunities to exhibit their own art and to work directly with professional artists to install and promote exhibitions.

About Dyson College of Arts and Sciences

Pace University’s liberal arts college, Dyson College, offers more than 50 programs, spanning the arts and humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and pre-professional programs (including pre-medicine, pre-veterinary, and pre-law), as well as many courses that fulfill core curriculum requirements. The College offers access to numerous opportunities for internships, cooperative education and other hands-on learning experiences that complement in-class learning in preparing graduates for career and graduate/professional education choices.

About Pace University

Pace University has a proud history of preparing its diverse student body for a lifetime of professional success as a result of its unique programs that combine rigorous academics and real-world experiences. Pace is ranked the #1 private, four-year college in the nation for upward economic mobility by Harvard University’s Opportunity Insights, evidence of the transformative education the University provides.

About Mack Trucks

Dedicated to moving and building a better world, Mack Trucks has provided purpose-built transportation solutions for more than a century. Today, Mack is one of North America’s largest producers of heavy-duty trucks, and Mack® trucks are sold and serviced through an extensive distribution network in many countries around the world. Mack trucks, diesel engines and transmissions sold in North America are assembled in the United States. Mack manufacturing locations are certified to the internationally recognized ISO 9001 standard for quality, ISO 14001 standard for environmental management systems and OHSAS 18001 standard for health and safety management systems. Mack is also a proud sponsor of Share the Road, an American Trucking Associations public information campaign aimed at enhancing the safety of our nation's roadways. Mack Trucks is part of the Volvo Group, which is driving prosperity through transport and infrastructure solutions, offering trucks, buses, construction equipment, power solutions for marine and industrial applications, financing and services that increase customer uptime and productivity. Founded in 1927, the Volvo Group is committed to shaping the future landscape of sustainable transport and infrastructure solutions. The Volvo Group is headquartered in Gothenburg, Sweden, employs almost 100,000 people and serves customers in more than 190 markets. In 2020, net sales amounted to about $36.8 billion.

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