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Today is Earth day and it is a reminder that we have a responsibility as citizens to take care of our dear planet earth. From recycling to advocating for climate change, there are many things you can do. But what about artists? Can they also be green? The answer is yes! One piece of art at a time, the artists you will get to know in this article will inspire you. “Create, reuse and assemble”, that is our motto!

Bird made out of Trash art by Bordalo II
Trash art by our artist Bordalo II

I hope to inspire others to think twice before they throw their trash away, maybe someone else could use it. I think everybody knows the sentence “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” but sadly almost no one understands the full meaning.

– Thomas Dambo

Our first green artist is Thomas Dambo from Copenhagen, Denmark. He makes big-scale sculptures and installations from recycled materials and makes his art playful and interactive. When people see his work, they get amazed that it is possible to build such big and beautiful things from “trash”. “In this way, I hope to teach and inspire others about the big potential and value of recycling”, he confides to us. 

Wood art installation by Thomas Dambo
Thomas Dambo working on his wood installation                                                                                

He continues by explaining how important it is to integrate recycled material into his art: “I would never build my huge wooden sculptures if I had to go buy new wood in a hardware store”. He goes even further by saying that he wouldn’t be an artist if he had to be part of a materialistic society that would make him buy things all the time to make his art.

Besides the good conscience at the end of the day, working with “trash” also brings people together. Thomas’work is made with the help of volunteers who learn and share his values and techniques. Moreover, the material he uses is often brought by people who drive to his warehouse or is found through tips given by people online. “I guess people really like to see their trash come to life instead of just being discarded in a land field” he explains with great joy. This means people have a real interest not only in art but also in the environment, the best combination of all!

Recycled art by Thomas Dambo
“Milk box cow” by Thomas Dambo

“I think all urban artists should care about environmental questions because they have the ability to create awareness and spread the messages around.”

– Glam

The second eco-friendly artist you’ll meet is Glam. This urban artist based in Lisbon works mostly with graffiti spray paint, paper, cardboard, and wood. She always tries to recycle old boxes, used cardboard and wood pieces in her artwork, as she did last year during the International From Waste to Art exhibition in Azerbaijan.

Trash art installation by Glam
Glam’s installation for the V International “From Waste to Art” Exhibition 2016

For the installation you see in the picture, she didn’t use any paint or varnish! She only reused the colored part of the boxesThis is the living proof that when you want, you can!

Something else she wants? To be the best citizen she can be.“Also in my daily life as a citizen, I try to do everything in the most sustainable way and with as little waste as possible. When I’m driving I’m always attentive to all the trash cans looking to find old objects I can take to use for my work or to restore, like old furniture”, she admits.

Glam doesn’t only look after the future of our planet but also thinks of the younger generation. This young artist spreads her green conscience to the smaller ones through workshops.

Wood art by Glam

I really try to keep in mind that human beings are very bad in looking to the long end but are willing to sacrifice things for the fast outcome. In my daily life that means trying to refuse easy consumption, easy entertainment, easy mobility and easy choice making, as an artist as well as a citizen.

– Martin Gestenberger

Our third and last green artist is Martin Gerstenberger from Southern Germany. He is an urban artist who creates wood sculptures and paints murals and canvases. He explained us that he uses old wood parts and other vintage objects to give them a new life and turn them into beautiful sculptures. “When doing so I keep in mind how long it takes a tree to grow and how many things this plant might have seen. So it would be especially sad to just throw away something made of this material.”

Portrait of Martin Gerstenberger painting
Martin Gerstenberger working on his canvas

However, he doesn’t consider himself an engaged artist. “Seeing other artists or activists almost sacrificing their own life to change things it would be presumptuous to really call myself fully engaged.”

Don’t be so humble Martin! He admits that he tries to keep old cultural roots and its influences alive to hopefully motivate other people to stop just consuming things. He wants people to start using their leisure time to create and reuse: “It does not have to be art stuff but can be anything that is not prefabricated or can just be easily consumed”.

Art by Martin Gerstenberger
“Where do I belong” by Martin Gerstenberger

Even though we are part of a generation that is extremely consumerist and materialistic, it is refreshing to know that our artists are aware of the bigger picture and use their creativity in a positive and eco-friendly way!  

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