One man’s trash is another man’s treasure

I strolled through the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) museum this morning and came across a larger-than-life piece by El Anatsui in the Great Hall (photos above). From afar, it seems average. But when viewed up close, you can see the individual pieces, and it takes on a whole new form.

The description states that each molecule of the art was made from reclaimed aluminum liquor bottle caps. It reminded me of an artist from a film I watched a few years ago. His name is Vik Muniz, and he uses garbage collected from the infamous Jardim Gramacho dump site in Brazil to create unbelievably life-like and beautiful portraits:

Image result for vik muniz wasteland
@vik.muniz

I find large installation pieces fascinating to begin with – the majority of my work tends to be confined to smaller sketch pages – so the overwhelming stature of a work like this is particularly captivating. The attention to detail is fantastic, but it also speaks to a lot of comprehensive movement and fluidity.

As I was standing there (moving to and fro, close and far from the art) every single person who walked by was pulled in. The gravitational force of a piece like this is monumental. Even if someone wasn’t initially interested by the form, the description of the work (or physical closer inspection by that individual) tends to fully grasp them. Thinking of the shear volume of bottle caps someone would have to collect to even begin to create a work, is in itself, a feat. Not to mention the commentary it transcribes.

I would love to go into a deep dive on sustainable art in the near future. However, seeing something like this in person really does make a huge difference. After today, I’ll have to make a point of viewing (especially composed and intricate pieces like this) in person.