The Artist Who Uses Your Trash To Create Massive Works Of Art

The Artist Who Uses Your Trash To Create Massive Works Of Art

Avatar of Yolanda Cantu

By: Yolanda Cantu

April 5, 2017

Art The Artist Who Uses Your Trash To Create Massive Works Of Art
Avatar of Yolanda Cantu

By: Yolanda Cantu

April 5, 2017

Visual art has gone through several transformations throughout the years: styles, techniques, mediums, tools, themes, and several other elements have changed, offering us new projects for us to admire and reflect on. Vik Muniz’s artwork has revolutionized the concept of esthetic and transformed how we experience and think about art.

Vik Muniz Trash Food Art Portrait-w636-h600

Fate took him from his native Sao Paolo to the United States, where he was finally able to develop as a creator. Muniz tells the story of how he came to find himself in North America. One day he noticed two people fighting in the street; he tried to break up the fight, but one of them pulled out a gun and shot him in the leg. Later on he received compensation from the person who shot him. It was with this money that he was able to move north.

Vik Muniz Trash Food Art Obama-w636-h600

The artist is not only interested in presenting his work to a crowd of art connoisseurs. He wants his pieces to be universal so that they capture the imagination of any member of the public. His creative reuse of elements we could consider waste transforms discarded items into beautiful things.

Vik Muniz Trash Food Art Jardim Gramacho-w636-h600

One of his most famous works is his series Images of Trash (2008). In order to create this, he spent approximately three years at what was the largest landfill in the world, Jardim Gramacho in Rio de Janeiro. The site was closed in 2012 due to the danger it presented to those living and working there.

Vik Muniz Trash Food Art Landill project-w636-h600

To create something beautiful out of the disgusting is no simple feat. With the help of garbage collectors, the artist gathered objects to then place and arrange them as shapes and colors, that would result in large scale images he then photographed and auctioned. The proceeds went to the association of landfill workers.

Vik Muniz Trash Food Art Rio de Janeiro-w636-h600

Filmmaker Lucy Walker filmed the Oscar nominated documentary Waste Land (2011), where she followed Muniz’s entire process of creation.

Vik Muniz Trash Food Art Waste Land-w636-h600

Muniz presents his funny and playful side through his works made with food. He does tributes to the great masters such as Caravaggio, Jacques-Louis David, Goya, Gauguin, Monet, and several others. When we see them from afar they look as regular paintings. But when we get closer we begin to notice they’re made from edible items.

Vik Muniz Trash Food Art Mona Lisa-w636-h600

Amongst these works we find Double Mona Lisa (1999), where mirrored images of the Gioconda are placed side by side, one made out of peanut butter, the other with jelly.

Vik Muniz Trash Food Art Medusa Marinara-w636-h600

There’s also the Medusa Marinara (1997), made out of spaghetti, tomato sauce, and a pinch of oregano. We can also find the Che: Black Beans (2006).

Vik Muniz Trash Food Art Che Black Beans-w636-h600

The artist’s creative streak shows no limits. He not only makes large scale pieces, but also has a series of works that are only visible through a microscope. For the photographical series, called Colonies (2014), Muniz collaborated with a scientist from MIT to manipulate human cells to create symmetrical patterns that are visually striking.

Vik Muniz is definitely an unconventional artist. His use of versatile elements shows how art does not require brushes, paints, canvases, or sophisticated tools to create something worthy of awe.

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Translated by María Suárez