One of the few fallacies of art is the amount of waste produced and materials consumed. Canvases, paints, paintbrushes, – not to mention all the towels and clothes tarnished by spilled paint and product in the name of creating a masterpiece; all of it becomes . We live in a world which is beginning to center itself around “green” and “eco-friendly” methods of living; should we do the same with art? Shall we be done with the millions of little paint tubes used for the purpose of creating a piece? Should we continue on wasting wood to create easels, canvas frames, paintbrushes, and palates? Or should we find a different method of creating art?
While art has somewhat shifted its focus to the medium of computer graphics and pieces drawn up on programs such as Adobe® Photoshop – which can and may very well be considered eco-friendly due to the lack of paper, supplies, and waste which goes into producing pieces in this format – many artists elect to stick to traditional, physical mediums of creating art. But how would art begin to evolve if we began using only pre-existing materials? What if we took those millions of little paint tubes and created a piece out of their waste?
Upcycling – the “new recycling” (according to some) which goes a step above and beyond the process of recycling products to create completely new works from pre-existing material – does just that. Deemed one of the most eco-friendly processes of using material due to absence of the reprocessing stage of recycling, upcycling is a form of art which everyone can participate in. All you need are some stray materials and an imagination!
Meet the Artists
Born 1949 in the town of Liverpool, England, Anthony “Tony” Cragg is a sculptor who utilizes both reclaimed objects and raw materials to create some of the most twisted and magnificent pieces within the genre of sculpting. Tony studied at Gloucestershire College of Art in Cheltenham, Wimbledon School of Art, and the Royal College of Art during his years of higher education from 1969-1977. He began exhibiting his works in 1977 after a move to Wuppertal (North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany), and continues to exhibit to this day.
Sayaka Ganz is a Japan native, born in the city of Yokohama. She currently teaches design and drawing courses at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW). Ganz uses reclaimed plastic household items to create her works, which are exhibited in Tokyo, London, Takaoka, Isle of Man, San Francisco, New York, Monterey, Toledo, and Fort Wayne.
Though I’m not one to get overly excited about Recycling myself, I do love to explore the ever-expanding and changing boundaries of the world of art. Perhaps they’re not the most impressive pieces in the history of art (though Sayaka’s work is quite astounding to look at), but they’re certainly strong in their own respect. The style of Upcycling and Reclaiming to create pieces is one I could grow accustomed to appreciating, and I do look forward to seeing what else these two produce in the future.