Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Inspired by "Trash"

Have you ever been taking out the trash when inspiration hit? Ever thought that the bottle or box in the dumpster could be come something more? Well trash is exactly what brought inspiration to Lee Gainer and it led to some amazing art pieces that you can really feel great owning. One because they are gorgeous. I mean, hello, circles, colors texture (I think I'm in love) and two they are environmentally friendly, what more could you ask for? Here is Lee's piece, Magnolia, it's description and the interview about what inspired it.

Original and unique design on 48" x 48" cradled maple board. This piece is from a series of very large collages I created with each being named for a flower. The title is an expression of the "opposition" or things organic and natural, which this artwork is the opposite of. It is organic in it's appearance (like a field of flowers) but created from completely man-made materials. Each took just over a month to build. This piece contains a variety of recycled (upcycled) materials; fabric, paper, felt, foil, caps, carpet, metal, plastic, styrafoam, dried paint, beads, padding and cardboard, that have been hand-rolled into circles and swirls and placed perfectly and securely using Golden Soft Gel. Featuring a rainbow of colors and textures, this piece is unusual and gets noticed by every viewer.
What inspired this piece?
I used to live in a normal townhouse burb that threw out an amazing amount of "trash" each week. I am talking about entire living rooms sets, working light fixtures that just needed a new bulb, $150 of blown glass Xmas ornaments (with the tags still attached), perfectly good stuff! I knew there was something I could do with all these things so I began creating my rolled work in larger forms, using found materials. I had to find a a way to keep some of this good stuff out of a landfill.

Can you detail how you translated your inspiration into your work of art?
I was already working with various materials (dried paint, felt, papers, etc.) by rolling them up into "swirls". I wanted to use those "trash" materials and decided to work bigger. I contacted Al Souza and inquired about the boards he glued his puzzle pieces to. He gave me some pointers, nice guy! I taught myself to use a table saw, went to my local lumber yard and started making my own huge cradled boards. This allowed me to use the heavier, larger "trash" materials.

Where do you tend to find inspiration for your art pieces?
All over. How a shadow falls, the shape it makes. Trash, other artists, lights at night, images from books, bird's nests (they use all sorts of things!), video game screen shots, childhood memories (water slides, girls in parades, ice cream trucks), just about anything.

Any advice for someone feeling uninspired?
It's so frustrating when you get "that block". I will go read a book, do some chores, anything to get my mind completely away from art. After a while, I get an idea or the "spirit" again and hit the ground running. I think that your mind needs to rest its creative side sometimes. In physical exercise, you push a muscle just past it's strength. The fibers tear. You rest. The fibers heal and grow stronger. I think it's the same with creativity.

Lee is also a talented painter and I don't think it will take you very long to see what inspired her paintings! My personal favorite is her M&M paintings. My boys collect the little M&M guys that come out at every holiday, and they would look perfect on the wall over top of their collection! And the Necco wafer one really brings back memories! So fun!

You can find more of Lee's incredible work in her Etsy shop, her website, and her blog .
Wouldn't it be great if we all followed Lee's lead and started upcycling trash into amazing art. We could probably reduce global warming by at least a third! Al Gore would be so proud! But, seriously finding inspiration in your trash is a great way to add something new (or old) to your artwork! The next time you head to the dumpster, the recycling bin or trash can, take a closer look and you may be surprised by what you find, and no I don't mean the leftovers from last week (or maybe I do). Look at the shapes of containers, the colors of junk mail and even the strange, alien shapes of the mold that starts to grow after awhile. Remember, keep your eyes and mind open (I did find inspiration in spillt milk after all) and your nose closed, because while there is tons of visual inspiration in trash, the smell is still not so inspiring.

Also remember, supporting artists who use recycled materials is good for the environment!!
To see more cool upcycled art, jewelry, clothing and home decor items, search "upcycle" or "trashion" on, visit the Trashion Street Team page and it's member shops, check out the article, Upcycling for a Greener Living in the Storque and if getting close to trash is not your thing, check out check out these Flickr Groups: Trashion Nation , Trashionista, Free Market (the bargain bin), and The Reuse Project.

The trash photo was found on Flickr and was taken by hammerf.


Renee said...

Awesome art created from trash, very inspiring.

papernclay said...

great feature!!! I love her art!!!

Kirsten said...

That's really amazing and beautiful

Anonymous said...

This is so cool!
I added a link to your blog in mine.

Block Party Press said...

Thanks everybody! Lee really does amazing work.

Thanks for the link Vivika! I added yours to mine too! I enjoyed your artists feature too.


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