Art in the Garbage
Did you know that, according to National Geographic, the world produces 3.5 million tons of solid waste each day? That's why finding ways to reduce our waste and reuse materials after their initial use, also known as "up-cycling," is so important. Remember, art can be made out of ANYTHING—so making art is a perfect way to reuse materials that might otherwise go to the dump. That's right, even that crumbled-up gum wrapper on your counter can be turned into art. Today, you'll discover how artists use recycled objects to create unique "found object" artwork. Then, you’ll create your own art inspired by artist Victor Nunez. Let's turn that trash into treasure!
what you’ll need
- A computer, tablet, or mobile phone and access to the internet
- Pens, crayons, markers, or colored pencils
- 3 or more simple, small found objects like paperclips, popcorn, coins, pen caps, etc.
- Safe objects to create an obstacle course (like pillows, blankets, ropes, etc.)
Ask About Today
What is found object art? What did you learn about Victor Nunez's artwork?
What's one thing we can reuse or recycle more often around our home?
Skip the Ads
Unfortunately, online videos often start with short advertisements. Remind your campers to click the "Skip" button as soon as they can to move ahead to the video.
"Found object" artists use ordinary objects to create artwork, rather than traditional art-making materials like paint or clay. See how simple, everyday objects like pencils, bottlecaps, and food can be transformed into exciting and unexpected works of art.
Art of the Everyday
In this video from the Museum of Modern Art, you'll see some of the most recognized found-object artworks in history and learn how artists like Marcel Duchamp took everyday materials and turned them into something new: art.
Remember: Online videos often start with advertisements. (Annoying, we agree!) Click the "Skip" button as soon as you can to move ahead to the video.
Becoming a Found Object Artist
How do you become a found-object artist anyway? Meet Joseph Cornell, a man who never really liked the term "artist" and never had any artistic training, yet went on to became one of the most acclaimed found-object artists in history.
Escape into Nevermore Park
Chicago artist Hebru Brantley is best-known for painting iconic, cartoon-inspired characters. In his exhibit "Nevermore Park," he uses found objects like old TVs, comic books, toys and signs to create an art experience you can get lost in. Step inside with this video from PBS.
From Trash to Treasure
Hear found object artist Brian Petro talk about his work and his love for finding materials in trashcans and abandoned buildings.
Today, you'll be creating your own found-object illustrations inspired by Victor Nunez! You’ll need paper, a drawing utensil, and 3 or more found objects.
Remember, Victor Nunez takes a simple found object and incorporates it into many different illustrations. Start by finding a few interesting objects. Have a paperclip? How many different things can you draw that incorporate that same object? Can it be an earring on a person? The handle for a magnifying glass? A cane? Some funky goggles? Get as creative as you can and draw at least 5 different scenes or illustrations for each object you find. When you're done (or along the way) snap some photos of your work like Victor Nunez!
Share your work! We'd love to see it. Ask a parent to email a photo to us or share it on Instagram or Twitter by tagging @CampKinda.
For younger explorers
Can you make a face with found objects around your house? Let's find out! What can you use for the face? Eyes? Ears? Nose? Hair? See how many different faces you can make with everyday objects.
Check out this interview with 29 year-old artist Nina Clayton, to see how she cleans beaches and uses the trash to create beautiful art in Cambodia.
Doodling with Victor
Victor Nunez created a doodling book and did an interview about it and his work. Read this article to learn about his process and why he thinks it's important to have fun with it!
New York City's Secret Trash Museum
For more than 30 years, New York City sanitation worker Nelson Molina collected interesting objects he came across during his daily trash pick-up route in East Harlem. During that time, he collected more than 45,000 objects, from furniture and paintings to houseplants and toys. Read about him and scroll through the photos of his incredible collection in this article from Atlas Obscura.
For younger explorers
Someone needs to do something about the town of Abberdoo-Rimey, where garbage was left to grow rotten and slimy!
For younger explorers
What's a thingamabob? Something creative that doesn't have another name. Read along as Kenya learns about turning old items into thingamabobs and more!
There's a lot of litter falling in this park! Help clean it up by grabbing the items and sorting them into the right bins: recycling, compost, or trash.
Found-Object Obstacle Course
You can use objects around your house to do more than create art—you can even use them to create your own obstacle course! Get creative and find some things around the house to make your own obstacle course and get your body moving. You can use pillows, blankets, chairs, ropes, plastic cups to weave around... anything! Try timing yourself or challenging someone in your family to a race. If you need ideas, check out this video.
Be safe! Go for soft materials like couch cushions or pillows, be careful when you're going through your obstacles, and clean up after you're done (it'll make your parents happy).
more to explore
Fabulous Fabric Collages
Check out artist Bisa Butler's fabric collages and quilts to see more ways to use non-traditional materials to create art in new and interesting ways.
Gallery Show at the Recycling Center?
Believe it or not, this recycling center in Seattle, WA is home to its own artist-in-residence program. Artists at the center don't see tons of trash—they see mountains of raw material.