Early in my young career as an artist I would purchase pre-stretched and primed canvases. One day I decided to increase the volume of my work so I went out and purchased six of these canvases in various sizes. When I got back to my studio I unwrapped each one canvas from its plastic shrink-wrap. All of the plastic wrap ended up in a pile in the corner and were eventually rolled into a large ball. For some reason as I type this article, I am almost embarrassed about how this large ball of plastic made me feel. It made me feel sick to my stomach. It’s funny that we as humans are for whatever reason, convinced by society not to care about plastic waste and that ‘use once’ plastics are a necessity for a life of convince. Here I am producing such a huge amount of unnecessary plastic waste that will forever be a part of my carbon footprint. It was at that moment as I stood there staring at that ball of hideous plastic on the floor that I decided that I never want to feel like that again. This forever changed me as an artist. I want to be a voice for planet earth.
At the time of my realization that I will become an artist that speaks for planet earth. I lived in a high-rise condo building in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. On the ground floor of this building there was a large garbage room where residents can drop off large household items that are no longer desirable, leftover cans of paint, and other larger items that they couldn’t stuff down their floor’s designated garbage chute. By the end of every month there was a large pile of discarded, cheap, particleboard furniture and old appliances. Amongst the heap of briefly used, almost new yet broken items, I found a couch and a couple of half used cans of paint. I began the task of disassembling the couch to reclaim its wooden frame and removing all of the leather and ‘pleather’ that I would later sew back together as a stand-in for canvas (click here for the full story with images.) This was my first recycled art project.
As of February 2015, I have been painting with and on 100% recycled materials whenever possible. The frames, when materials are available are also constructed from reclaimed wood. In 2015 I have had the good fortune of developing a relationship with the paint recycling company, Loop Paint, who generously provides me with all the paint for my projects. All of the material that I paint on is reclaimed, mainly sailboat sails (sailcloth). Sailcloth was traditionally made from linen, cotton or hemp, typically in the form of canvas, though modern sails are rarely made from these biodegradable materials. Most sails are now made from synthetic fibers like low-cost nylon, polyester or carbon fibers. Because of sailcloth’s synthetic nature, it is an ideal candidate for repurposing. I am not a sailor, so I cannot reduce the number of sails I go through and certainly do not have any control over the sails that are produced, though I can reuse what others no longer have a need for and certainly recycle whatever is left after that.
I believe that everyone needs to take a step back and evaluate every decision that impacts the health of our planet. We need to look at what we as a human race are doing as a whole and what we can do to change things for the better. We need to own our mistakes, past and present and move forward. We need to think about long term environmental preservation, and not short term financial profits. We are in this together and need to protect the life on planet earth, especially the life that cannot protect itself.
My goal is for my work to inspire others and for it to become a symbol of change. Planet earth needs you on many fronts.
Visit my site and check out my recycled/upcycled works of art.