Olga Lah stands with her piece "Propagate." She is one of three artists featured in a new show called "Escape from the Landfill" at the Huntington Beach Art Center. The show deals with the place of plastics, consumerism and energy consumption. (SCOTT SMELTZER, HB Independent / July 10, 2012)

The artist traced her giant baby doll concept back to when she cleared out her 10-year-old son's room of toys he no longer touched.

"I had just been stashing things in his room," Joyce Dallal said, describing the size of her now 13-year-old son's past playtime footprint on the environment. "I was just amazed at the amount of stuff I pulled out of his room. It filled several garbage bags."

Dallal soon discovered that it wasn't so easy to get rid of the boy's unwanted toys. She tried to give them away to neighbors and the local Goodwill, but they wouldn't take them.

The experience got her thinking.

Dallal, who's based in Culver City, eventually conceived the idea for "Receptacle." To make it, she erected a 10-foot tall sculpture of a baby — made of wire meshing used to make trash cans — then nourished it by "feeding" it discarded toys, objects constructed out of plastics and other not-so-environmentally-friendly materials.

"Receptacle" will invade the Huntington Beach Art Center as part of a group exhibit opening Saturday night. Dubbed "Escape from the Landfill," the show, featuring sculptures and installations by Dallal and two other Southland artists — Cynthia Minet and Olga Lah — deals with the place of plastics, consumerism and energy consumption have in modern-day society, HBAC officials said.

Lah, who is based in Gardena, enlisted locals to help install her piece, which is made up of around 150,000 plastic container caps that decorate the HBAC gallery walls.

Minet, who also works out of Culver City, has created life-sized sculptures of a camel and a pair of oxen, which she made out of repurposed and recycled materials.

According to her artist's statement, the oxen are plowing through a field of plastic bottles and they are lit from within by LED lights.

The creatures "glow with a life force that escapes our landfills," wrote Minet in her statement. "Underlying their playful construction, [these] sculptures question whether ultimately we will evolve to become the materials that we can't do without and point to humankind's dependence on electricity."

"Escape from the Landfill" will run through Sept. 1 and be accompanied by a series of nighttime panel discussions, dubbed "Late 8," about garbage, recycling and similar topics.

The first of these discussions will take place at 6 p.m. July 19. A group of students from the Pegasus School will be talking with Casey Metkovich of the Surfrider Foundation about a study they did on plastic debris on local beaches.

Among other scheduled events, at 6 p.m. Aug. 1, Huntington Beach Mayor Pro Tem Devin Dwyer and Councilwoman Connie Boardman will appear at HBAC with Sue Gordon of Rainbow Environmental Services to discuss recycling, plastic bags and other green initiatives in Surf City; and at 6 p.m. Aug. 28, Susan Carpenter, a features writer for the Los Angeles Times who deals with green living topics, will take part in a conversation with Dallal, Lah and Minet.

"It's a way for everyone in the community to be involved," said Darlene DeAngelo, the show's curator. "Globally, it's something that affects us all. We're a consumerist society and we need to watch what we throw away."

imran.vittachi@latimes.com

Twitter: @ImranVittachi

If You Go

What: "Escape from the Landfill"

Where: Huntington Beach Art Center, 538 Main St., Huntington Beach

When: July 14 through Sept. 1; opening reception from 7 to 9 p.m. on Saturday

Gallery hours: Open from noon till 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, noon to 6 p.m. on Fridays and noon to 5 p.m. on Saturdays; closed Sundays and Mondays

Cost: Free

More information: http://www.huntingtonbeachartcenter.org.