CMA Stories

Reflections on Sustainability with Materials for the Arts

As our month of Sustainability comes to a close, we reflect on the lessons learned in reuse from Materials for the Arts (MFTA). MFTA was our featured CIVICKIDS partner in April, but they’re hugely supportive of CMA year-round. In fact, if you’ve ever made a sculpture or collage in the Fine Arts Studio, you’ve probably used something from MFTA!

So, what is MFTA anyway? MFTA is a New York City Department of Cultural Affairs-operated organization that collects unneeded items from businesses and individuals and makes them available to schools and nonprofits like CMA. They exhibit works made of reused materials in their gallery space and host regular art-making nights and educational series. If you meet the requirements, you can visit MFTA to “shop” for free whenever you want. CMA always picks up extra yarn, beads, and paper. Not only do these materials have a “life” and history before they’ve become an addition to your artwork, but they’re also being repurposed instead of thrown into a landfill. What household object that you’d normally throw away can you turn into art? We used a lot of water bottles over the past month! 

Last week, a group of CMA Teaching Artists visited MFTA in Long Island City to get a tour of the space, learn more about what makes MFTA tick, and make some art. Huge thanks to John Kaiser and our friends at MFTA for hosting! Check out some pictures from our visit below.

To learn more about Materials for the Arts visit

This program is supported, in part, by the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew Cuomo, and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. CIVICKIDS is sponsored by Google.


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