Artists are usually ahead of the curve when it comes to being green.
The artists featured here exclusively use recycled and/or trash to make pieces of contemporary art. These artists practice the art of “upcycling”, or literally turning everyday trash into creative treasures.
While Andy Warhol may have made the idea popular with his famous Campbell’s soup can exhibit, today’s trash artists bring more of an eco street cred to their art.
Some create compositions from recycled plastic bag or themed works for art galleries, while others create entire theme parks with trash, and even furniture from recycled materials.
There seems to be no end to what kind of art you can create with the most cost-effective medium available; trash. Here are some stunning examples of trash art…
Tim Nobel & Sue Webster
Tim and Sue met while they were studying Fine Arts in University together. Now they are best known for their art made from trash collected from the London streets, which shows an image when light is projected in front of it.
The author arranges all of the pieces carefully, photographs the collages, and then destroys them so that they only exist as photographs. Muniz also mixes junk with luxury goods such as caviar in his collages to make a statement about consumerism.
Pras creates tributes to celebrity portraits and other works of art through a process called anamorphosis, during which he stacks everyday objects on a photograph to form a collage.
Sarah-Jane van der Westhuizen
The art is created from old car parts, recycled metal pieces, and anything the artist could get her hands on. Van der Westhuizen has installed several of these trash sculptures all over Europe.
Hundreds of used coathangers go into the sculpture work of David Mach, who uses other recycled materials to do larger-than-life sculptures. This gorilla is one of his most impressive examples.
The shark piece below, Captain Crunch, was constructed from hubcaps, food packaging tins, and the leg of a male mannequin. The fins are copper and the teeth are soup cans. It is ten feet long. Russell specializes in these sculptures produced from found objects.
Gaudreau’s work combines photography, video, new-media, graphics, and sculpture with humor and irony to create collaborations that advocate for a greater awareness of eco-issues and empowerment. Gaudreau photographed everything he threw out every day for a year. The resulting collage was huge and filled a few rooms at the gallery it was exhibited in.
Mario Caicedo Langer
Langer creates sculpture from trash and broken gadgets.
Dave is a Hamilton, Ontario artist who specializes in reclaimed metal and other found objects in his works. He also produces large-scale sculpture and functional artwork.
Mercier specializes in celebrity collages done with the celebrity’s own discarded objects. While Hello Kitty likely didn’t discard any objects, Donald Trump and Mariah Carey probably did.
Deininger is widely known as a famous artist who upcycles junk into fine art installations. He is also a highly regarded and collected visual artist.
Stitzlein creates art from found materials such as piano keys, broken china, and other recycled items.
Wales has been created sculptures, designs, and installations for the last fifteen years that centre on her observations of the animal world. The material that she uses to created her various animal sculptures is salvaged from everyday domestic life.
Langan creates art from reclaimed cardboard and other materials. Scream was created from corrugated cardboard and other recycled materials. Langan works with non-toxic glue, an exacto knife, and a lot of patience.
Bradford, a former psychotherapist, is best known for creating sculptures from toy parts. He screws the toy parts onto a wooden armature to create his 3D sculptures.
Brass pots and eerie skulls from a mashup of metal parts are just part of what this skilled Indian artist has done.
Schult is known for creating massive installations of people constructed from trash in major locations around the world. Here are just a few of them.
Guyton created the Heidelburg Project as an urban renewal project, transforming a rundown section of Detroit from a place where people were afraid to walk to an art exhibition that people wanted to visit.
Elizabeth Lundberg Morisette
ClementineMom on Flickr, Morisette specializes in making art from items she purchases off of eBay or otherwise found objects.
Kaufman’s crushed can art is done on crushed soda and beer cans.
Jordan’s Running the Numbers series aims to display America’s relationship with consumerism. While he doesn’t physically make art from trash, he does showcase the wastefulness of a consumerist society eloquently. The first image, Plastic Bottles, is a shot of 2 million plastic bottles shows how many plastic bottles Americans go through in five minutes. The second, Packing Peanuts is a photograph of 166,000 packing peanuts, or the number of overnight packages shipped by air every hour. The third image, is a recreation of Seurat’s masterpiece, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Grand Jatte, done with 106,000 aluminum cans. A closeup of the work is immediately beneath it.
This artist creates two and three-dimensional collages from newspaper.
While he built his reputation creating creatures from hubcaps, Elrington has since branched out into grocery cart parts and old pots and pans.
About 40 years ago, Chand cleared some jungle to build a garden in his native India. He put together a few sculptures using found materials and old trash. Now, his “garden” covers 40 acres and includes numerous mosaics and sculptures made from reclaimed materials.
Yong Ho Ji
Yong makes sculptures out of old tires. He sees tires as a symbol of out-of-control consumerism.
Siegel creates large trash forms and places them in the middle of various landscapes. Electronic waste on the Stanford campus and newspapers with headlines about Hurricane Katrina feature prominently in the following installations.
What do you think of this type of art? Do you know of any other great artists? Please share with us…