By Guest Contributor: Anne Staley
Artists are a strange breed. I say that not because they have a stereotypical image of being mavericks, but because of their ability to see art in the most common and mundane of things. For me, their power to transform almost anything into an artistic masterpiece is both magical and baffling.
The purpose of the post is not to discuss the idiosyncrasies or the brilliance of artists, but to appeal to the artist (dormant or active) in you to recognize the endless possibilities that lie as waste in your trash can. Yes you heard it right, your trash can!
Carhenge – View of the inner circle
If you find it hard to believe, let me take you on a trip. First stop, city of Alliance, Nebraska, US. The city is home to one of the most creative artistic sites you’ll ever lay your eyes on. Called Carhenge, it draws inspiration from England’s Stonehenge and is exclusively formed from 38 vintage American automobiles arranged in a circle and covered with grey spray paint.
Conceptualized by Jim Reinders in 1987 as a memorial for his father, Carhenge also houses several other sculptures made from automobiles in addition to the replica of England’s Stonehenge.
Cadillac Ranch – Brightly printed Cadillac automobiles
Next stop Amarillo, Texas, US, which is the site for Cadillac Ranch. Created in 1974 by the trio of Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez and Doug Michels, Cadillac Ranch is a public art installation representing the evolution of the Cadillac automobile through the years 1949 to 1963 and consists of junk or used Cadillac cars.
Cadillac Ranch – Distant view
From here, we move on to the city of Chandigarh in India, which is home to a sculpture garden made exclusively from industrial and home wastes. Christened “Rock Garden”, it was built by government official Nek Chand who used scrap and other types of waste items like bottles, glasses, tiles, electrical trash, etc. to create different types of sculptures.
Rock Garden – Sculptures made from recycled ceramics
The garden is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city today – a fetching tribute to the brilliance of a common man who had an artist hidden somewhere inside him!
Rock Garden – Dancing girls
These are some world renowned artworks created from wastes that were definitely headed for the trash bin. There are many such extraordinary works of art across the world. Now you see why I think artists are a strange, but brilliant breed?
From junk to art!
My intention, through this article, is not to urge you to create another Carhenge or Cadillac Ranch. It is to encourage you to think creatively about what you can do to transform the junk around your home into artwork that you can proudly display or even sell for money.
But that’s not all. Creative satisfaction and monetary gains aside, there’s a bigger reason for using junk for making art. The more junk you recycle or “upcycle” in this case, the less there will be left for landfills and incinerators. You’ll be saving the environment and reducing your carbon footprint and have a beautiful piece of art to show for it at the same time.
How to Make Your Own Masterpiece from Trash!
- To start with, you can draw inspiration from some famous artists who are known for using trash to create art. Some names that come to mind include Tim Nobel & Sue Webster, HA Schult, Derek Gores, and Andrew Chase.
The type of work they’re associated with range from animal sculptures made with metal scrap to shadow art created from trash. You’ll find many more such artists and their work on the Internet.
- You can also use resources like Pinterest and YouTube for some wonderful ideas on artwork made from recycled material and trash. Or you can let your imagination run wild and create 100 percent original works of art from garbage.
- Almost anything that you consider waste can be used to create art if you’re up for the challenge. For example, can you imagine turning an old record into a stylish wall clock or using glass bottles to make fancy chandelier lights and pretty vases? If you’ve an eye for color and can paint reasonably well, empty egg cartons make for interesting canvases.
You can use artwork made from junk to decorate your home, garden, patio or deck. You can also sell them on websites like eBay or put them up in your next garage sale for some cash.
But if art is not your cup of tea, don’t throw your junk into the trash can. Take it to a local scrap dealer or a scrap recycling facility in your area. For example, scrap recycling centers like SIMS Metal Management, American Scrap Metal, Biloxi Auto Recycling operates their facility for scrap recycling in Biloxi, where I spent my childhood. I am pretty sure many such facilities exist in other parts of the country. Believe me your scrap is going to find much better use in these facilities than the trash bin!
Anne Staley is an environmentalist who likes to express her thoughts and beliefs through the written word. Her motto in life is to better the lives of others through the knowledge she shares. She loves nature and urges her readers to go green. She shares her thoughts through creative writing and blogs.