Discarded objects fascinate Calvin Brett. He started exploring art seriously as a painter, but soon realized painting wasn’t his preferred form of expression. Artists like Thornton Dial and Patrick Dougherty, who created the stick sculptures in Duke Gardens, inspired Brett to move into assemblage and to use found objects in his art. Brett’s most recent installation is made of cardboard, plastered over the walls of The Cameron Gallery at the Scrap Exchange in Durham’s Lakewood District.

“In a society where so much is based on purchasing the new, the cardboard represents all that we ship, all that we buy, all that is transferred around, and is just this husk,” Brett said.

Open boxes jut out into the space, which is currently filled with ladders and various pieces waiting to be mounted. The installation, called “Packaging Space,” will open Friday and be on display through Feb. 10 with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. on opening night. Visitors to the exhibit will be invited to take objects from the floor and arrange them in the boxes.

“As simple as that sounds, hopefully through enough visitors grabbing items and putting them in different boxes, they’ll look at the relationships between these items,” Brett said. “Hopefully, it will be something that people will be able to play with and keep on adding more and more and inspire others to create with things that they would traditionally just throw out.”

Brett worked on this exhibit with four other artists: Jaclyn Bowie, Carin Walsh, Jenny Blazing and Meg Stein. The idea of sustainability and awareness of waste creates a common thread throughout the components of the exhibit. Stein’s work focuses on using common items in new ways; Walsh and Blazing will add an animation based on city decay and environmental concerns. Bowie will add another layer of interactivity to the piece by projecting images from overhead projectors that visitors can write and draw on.

The artists working on this installation are also part of “The Bull Meets the Bayou” artist collective, which aims to create connections between artists in Durham and in New Orleans and increase Durham’s national reputation. Brett and Bowie said Stein was the first to organize this group. Her goal is to bring Durham artists to New Orleans to show work and vice versa.

The opening of “Packaging Space” will be one of several events intended to increase exposure for the collective and fundraise for their travels. Visual artist Gemynii, who is also a part of the group, said she has never been to New Orleans and felt that it would be a good opportunity for her as well as her colleagues to show their work to new audiences and to find inspiration.

“I feel that those cities both have a deep history of artists and artists of color and spirit and community,” Gemynii said. “It’s like a sister type of city, like our cousins that we’re getting ready to go meet for the first time.”

The theme of reuse in “Packaging Space” ties in with the goals of The Scrap Exchange, whose mission, according to its website, is to “promote creativity, environmental awareness and community through reuse.” The organization reclaims materials from businesses and local residents to then sell them in their retail store and to provide an open studio through a “Make N Take” space.

Brett decided to apply to exhibit in The Scrap Exchange because he had made a piece using materials from the store about a year ago. He also is looking to apply for the Artist in Residence Program at Recology in San Francisco, and he felt that exhibiting at The Scrap Exchange would be a good stepping stone to that residency.

The interactive aspect of the installation is another one that Bowie and Brett said they want to emphasize. Bowie had previously worked in sculptural installation before moving to a more digital medium when her studio space began to shrink. She wants to make art accessible and available, and does that through the use of the overhead, which she said is easy for people to engage with due to its low-tech nature. Brett’s use of cardboard also creates accessibility due to its abundance.

“People might look at this and be like, ‘Okay, anybody can do this,’” Brett said. “For me, that’s the point. If I can come up with something that others can do, that now all of a sudden opens up a brand new spectrum or avenue for expression, and that’s what I want.”