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Recycled Art That Definitely Isn’t Trash

With bottles, cans and other refuse continuing to pile up in our landfills, it’s nice to see that some creative artists are turning our junk into works of beauty. Not only does this help just a tiny bit with our growing mountains of trash, it also sends the message that recycling is something that we should think about in our everyday lives. There’s no more effective medium than art to communicate the importance of reducing the burden we place on our planet.

Aurora Robson is a perfect example of this new breed of artist. Born in Toronto in 1972, she grew up in Hawaii and has worked in New York for the last 20 years. She self-styles her art as “intercepting the waste stream”, and her work has been featured in many influential journals, including Art in America, and she has been awarded a fellowship at the New York Foundation for the Arts. A public speaker whose insights are in great demand, she creates diaphanous, flowerlike sculptures out of plastic debris, as well as collages out of junk mail that echo the same delicate themes.


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Another fine example of recycled art comes from Refresh Glass, based in Tempe Arizona. Refresh Glass recycled bottles are functional works of art, and range from glasses to carafes and planters. So far, they have recycled over 350,000 wine bottles that they have collected from the community, and say they are on a mission to rescue 10 million bottles from the refuse heap.

Tom Shelton is a self-taught artist that hails from New Jersey. He specializes in turning discarded objects into quirky folk art, making strange, cute little animals and tiny people out of things like old tins, discarded spoons, and tarnished little trinket boxes. His approach is highly experimental, and he refuses to be put into a neat container. According to Shelton, “I’m really not big on categorizing or labeling my art. I don’t have guidelines when I create. I just let the creative process happen, and whatever comes out is what it is.”

Derek Gores claims that his influences include Klimt, Kline and even Rube Goldberg. He creates portraits that range from impressionistic works that are reminiscent of Manet, through to highly photorealistic pieces. All of his pieces are collages on canvas, made from recycled magazines, labels, and other materials. His works are being exhibited around the world, and his impressive list of clients includes Madonna, Lenny Kravitz, and even the NFL.



Finally, Jane Perkins is a late comer to the art world, having spent 17 years working as a nurse and another 10 as a stay-at-home mom. She decided to take a degree in textiles at the Somerset College of Arts and Technology, and found joy working with recycled materials there. After graduating in 2006, she started making portraits of famous people such as Albert Einstein using found materials such as plastic toys, buttons, shells and beads. Now based in Exeter, her work has been sold as far afield as New York and Singapore.

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