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Recycled Bottles Christmas Tree to Be Lit in Silver Spring Saturday

Artist Julia Vogl created the art installation for downtown Silver Spring.

Expect a very different symbol of the holidays to light up downtown Silver Spring this year. Artist Julia Vogl was commissioned to create something that would be "eco-friendly and has the spirit of the holidays."

The result is an art installation in the shape of a Christmas tree, made entirely of recycled plastic bottles, each in a different color to represent the holiday plans of people in Silver Spring. 

For days, Vogl, a native of Washington, DC, collected over 1,000 used bottles from special trash cans placed near DSW, from Discovery Communications employees and from students at two local middle schools. The bottles range from run-of-the-mill water bottles to windshield wiper fluid containers to cough syrup bottles, Vogl said. 

"I asked people to tell me where they're going for the holidays," Vogl explained. She then colored the bottles according to the answers. 

Red is going somewhere hot; blue is somewhere cold, green is somewhere exotic or foreign; yellow is staying home and silver where the winter takes you.

"The idea is to create a piece that would represent the community and where they're going," she continued. "It's supposed to be decorative, but a data representation."

Raised near the DC-Maryland border, Vogl knows a little something about the Silver Spring community and said that she was excited to be a part of downtown. She spent the past three years creating public art in London. 

"It's been really awesome to come back," Vogl said. "Downtown Silver Spring did not exist in the way that it exists now when I was growing up, so it's been exciting to make this." 

Vogl hopes the project will get people to think about the things they throw out. 

"Each bottle really is from one person, somebody drank out of each bottle," she explained. 

"I think that's the most important thing in terms of preserving a community—recognizing individuals and the whole and that's been something that's important in all of my work." 

Vogl's tree will be lit tomorrow night in downtown Silver Spring at the fountain plaza. Sponsored by Downtown Silver Spring, in partnership with the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County, the event, titled "Reimagining the Holidays," is scheduled for 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The actual tree lighting will happen when it gets dark. 

Learn more about Vogl's work on her website.

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