Have you ever found the quote “Earth without art is eh”? That quote, although almost overly used and have become so cliché, is true nonetheless. Art is inseparable with humanity since the beginning of the time, and without it, we can’t enjoy the world to its fullest.
With creativity, you can turn anything into art. You can make the most beautiful sepia, watercolor painting with coffee, paint with only your lips, draw realistically on sand, carve landscapes using a book, and many more. Now, trash has become a problem which remain mostly unsolved, so why not turn it into art? If you love art or has an art soul, here are some inspirations for you.
1. Artur Bordalo’s large trash animal
Big scale art is definitely eye-catching, which makes it a good media to raise awareness about waste. This was the purpose of Artur Bordalo’s art since the beginning. He wants to draw attention to waste production, pollution and its impact, consumerism, greed, and the lack of reuse or recycling. Waste problems are issues that are easily forgotten and overlooked.
His source of materials are things which are normally seen as debris. “My goal is to make you think about what’s behind the colors, shapes, and the overall image. It’s a mix of subliminal messages that uniquely illustrate how our bad habits are destroying nature, the animals, and our habitat,” said the artist in an interview with Khachi Life.
His artwork starts from choosing a location and researching its environmental issues. Then, he collets materials, lay them out on the floor, shape, cut, bend, and assemble. It’s quite hard to spot, but in detail, you can find damaged bumpers, burnt garbage cans, tires, and other appliances in Bordalo’s works.
He sources his materials from wastelands, abandoned factories, companies which are going through recycling process, or other random places. Usually, the artist gets funds from museums, environmental institutions, festivals, and even private art collectors.
Why animals? Bordalo has created other series of work, but animals become his most important series. He wants to make sculpture out of materials which are responsible for the animals’ demise. He thinks that animals are a symbol of nature as well as the world, which is in danger.
2. Nepali artists that turn Mt. Everest’s wastes to artworks
Mt. Everest becomes every adventurer’s bucket list. Wouldn’t it be such an achievement if you manage to conquer the world’s highest mountain? According to Nepalese Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, more than 3,500 people have managed to climb the mountain.
However, that number brings another issue that needs solving; trash. Not all hikers were responsible and they sadly left their wastes behind. Everest Summiteers Association, the first association to initiate, Everest cleanup, has collected over 10 tons of garbage during two years. This, of course, affects the mountain’s environment as well as the aesthetic hiking aspect.
15 artists in Nepal joined together, made a project called “Mt. Everest 8848 Art Project I” and turned those trash into art. They’ve collected 1.5 tons of garbage and the remains of a helicopter that crashed into the slopes around 1970s.
Within a month, the artists collected oxygen cylinders, cans, glass bottles, trekking tools and transformed them as 74 pieces of art. One of the artists, Sushma Shakya said that the artworks mostly reflect mountain life and mountaineering experiences. The exhibitions have attracted thousands of visitors, and it has sold 19 art pieces.
Another artist, Nara Bahadur, said that the visitors were amazed by the artwork and the feedback was encouraging. The group of artists would continue working on similar turning-trash-to-art projects. They hope that the artwork will inspire and encourage people to keep mountains clean. See the artwork here.
3. Nick Gentry’s beautiful portraits
Some or many of us know how to recycle some things or avoid buying items which can lead to more wastes and carbon. But what do we do to unused photographic and radiographic plastic films? Most of the times, you can only keep, burn, or dispose of it. But Nick Gentry found a way to debunk that.
This artist found the source of his art from the most overlooked discarded materials; film negatives, x-rays, microfilm, and floppy disks. Out of those trash, he was able to construct enigmatic yet beautiful shoulders-up portraits.
Gentry makes collaged compositions that form eyes, noses, mouths, and ears. Then, he adds acrylic and oil and sets each piece of his artwork within a light box. The box illuminates the film strips that make each portrait.
The artist stated that he liked to make connections not only throughout each portrait but also beyond the portrait, into the lives and histories of the viewers. However, the connections are mostly ambiguous and open to individual interpretation.
Each face that he’s created has a collection of memories and information which are visible from a closer look. If it’s made of floppy disks, it symbolizes lost modes of communication and hidden aspects of our innermost selves. He stated that he liked the indescribable beauty and charm in old, discarded materials. Gentry seems love creating this type of art, saying, “I feel lucky to have such a choice in that area.”
4. Washed Ashore exhibition
One day, after the death of her husband in 2004, Angela Haseltine Pozzi was looking down at one of her favorite beaches and saw an awful lot of plastic pieces along the shores. She noticed that people were busy looking and picking for shells instead of trash. Since that moment, she knew that she must find a way get those people to pick up the garbage instead.
Pozzi said, “Plastic pollution is just choking the ocean. It’s hurting the animals, and we have to change our consumer habits.” She founded Washed Ashore in 2011 and collected about 18 tons of garbage from more than 300 miles of Oregon coastline. Then, her nonprofit organization made about 65 sculptures entirely from plastic trash that they’d found and collected.
The 58-year-old lady lead a team of artist and volunteers have made 17 large sculptures which were displayed as an art exhibition at the National Zoo. The centerpiece of the event is the 850-pound plastic statue, Flash the Marlin.
It’s a sculpture of a marlin fish standing majestically at the front of the zoo. The fish makes a splash in a wave of fishing nets and clear plastic bottles. Its gills are made from toilet seats, part of its eyes from a mayonnaise lid, a beer can, a motor oil container and a silver sandal, and the socket made from a deflated beach ball. Its sharp bill is made from three fishing rods.
In the end, Pozzi implores us to recycle and reduce our trash. She said that we can’t just feel guilty about the plastics we use every day, but we must act. We can reuse or donate them, but if we’ve got the artsy soul, then we can always turn them into artwork. “When you see everyone working together to make big things happen, it just gives you faith that we can solve some of the tough problems,” Pozzi said.
Have you ever done this kind of art before? Or have you ever been to one of the exhibitions that feature the artists above? Don’t forget to share your experience in the comments. Leave a like if you’re inspired by this article or simply enjoy reading it!