Broken rakes, sawdust and old rusted signs are scattered about Randall Reid’s on-campus art studio, but these items aren’t headed for a junk heap.
Instead, they could be destined for an art gallery.
Reid, professor in the School of Art and Design, used his recent developmental leave to create a body of work titled “Evidence of a Society,” which is on display in the university’s Gallery  through Saturday.
The exhibit is made up of materials he’s found at flea markets and antique stores, or that have been donated to him by friends and colleagues. Reid takes apart and rearranges these materials into collages. Most of the items are from the1920s to 1960s.
“What I hope people take away (from the exhibit) is a reflection on the past,” Reid said. “There’s a nostalgia for the way things were, when things were more simple, more direct and maybe less confusing.”
One of Reid’s favorite pieces in the gallery, a collage that centers on an old post office sign, embodies this concept. Reid said the sign takes him back to a time when the U.S. Postal Service was profitable, and it only took 5 cents to mail a letter.
“The post office was very fruitful in the beginning, then began to struggle in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and now it’s in debt,” Reid said. “The sign itself has a lot of undulation, so it reveals that underlying stress.”
That anthropological feel has been a common thread in much of Reid’s work, even before he was using reclaimed materials, said Mary Mikel Stump, gallery director. Stump has known Reid since 1994 and has seen his work evolve over the years.
While Reid chose what pieces would be displayed in Gallery , Stump was the one who arranged them in the room.
“You can imbue them with meaning that has to do with your own point of reference,” Stump said. “When Randall dropped these works off, I had a ball making my own connections and little stories.”
Reid’s wife, Olivia Juarez-Reid, has also contributed to the exhibit in her own way. Reid often employs her help in scavenging the markets for items to use in his artwork.
“It’s almost like a game,” Juarez-Reid said. “I always wonder how many rakes we’ll find, or we’ll go on a mission to find signs and rulers.”
Juarez-Reid, a Wells Fargo district manager, also offers her opinions and helps with the business aspect of selling and showing his work.
“I don’t think I have even a finger with creativity in it, but that’s kind of why it works,” Juarez-Reid said. “We work well together. I’m just so proud of him.”
After the exhibit wraps up Saturday, Reid will continue to work in his studio, where he can always find inspiration in the speed limit signs, old metal containers, battery holders, rulers and any of the other stacks of materials that have found a home there.
“I don’t get writer’s block, or think about what I’m going to do next. I just let it happen,” Reid said. “I just want to continue with this narrative work and finding materials that have an image and a subject matter, and develop a concept from there.”