Art

5 Socially-conscious Artists Creating Art Out of Waste

Turning waste into works of art: meet inspiring artists from around the world

For centuries, humans have exploited nature. The monstrous amount of waste we produce is an issue that socially-conscious individuals have turned their attention to. Today, creative people around the world are making art out of waste.

This choice of material causes us to reflect on what items we discard and push as far away from our lives as possible. In this sense, an artist's decision to put these items into a museum as part of exhibitions is very provocative.

We have selected five artists whose work you ought to explore:

Vik Muniz

Brazilian artist Vik Muniz is one of the most well-known artists working with waste, with his work having been exhibited in MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) in New York. In the documentary, Lixo extraordinario (Extraordinary Garbage), Muniz recreated masterpieces from art history, such as the Mona Lisa, with peanut butter and jelly. He used leftovers from a macarronada (a typical Venezuelan dish) to recreate Medusa’s panicked face in Caravaggio's famous painting, and used scrap metal to create a world map.

The pieces are full of irony, forcing the spectator to question what can be labeled “sophisticated” art.

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Vik Muniz

Bordalo II

Portuguese artist Bordalo II has made his mark on the world of trash art, making enormous sculptures out of scrap metal. Bordalo II juxtaposes nature and urban spaces by placing sculptures of animals in the middle of busy city streets.

His large pieces are visually impactful and make the spectator think about the amount of nature being replaced by garbage.

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Bordalo II

Sayaka Ganz

Japanese sculptor, Sayaka Ganz, creates animals from electronic waste. Her lavish works require great attention to detail and are both minimalist and highly sophisticated, seeming to come from a distant future in which nature and technology have merged.

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Sayaka Ganz

Erika Iris

The artwork of this American artist from Chicago draws on a similar concept to the work of Vik Muniz: Erika Iris illustrates celebrities’ faces using garbage.

Her use of jet black is reminiscent of urban stencil art.

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Erika Iris

Alejandro Durán

Mexican artist Alejandro Duran's creates work as a form of activism, denouncing the poor treatment of the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean.

Using photography and installation, his work is a cry for help that seeks to encourage the spectator to get involved.

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Alejandro Durán
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