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The Beauty of Junk Art

The Beauty of Junk Art

Artists around the world are taking trash, junk, and seemingly worthless materials and transforming them into art. This creative and resourceful form of recycling is called Junk Art. Pieces can range from jewelry to sculptures made from materials like scrap metals, plastic bags, and magazines.

The women of Kiwaiyu island in Kenya create toys and miniature sculptures from the discarded flip flops that wash onto their shores. The flip flops, along with other trash and debris from the mainland cities that travel across the ocean, is collectively called flotsam. The women are supplementing their income by repurposing the flips flops into art. They carve out turtles, planes, and other shapes from the spongy and colorful material flip flops are made of. These crafts are then sold in city markets, and the profits help to sustain the village of around 500 people back in Kiwaiyu.

The imagination and ingenuity of the women of Kiwaiyu who truly have turned trash into treasure seems impossible to attain. But even the most inexperienced can create beautiful junk art. In my Introduction to Ceramics class in high school we created bowls made only with old magazines, tape, glue, and Mod Podge. It was surprisingly easy to create once you got the hang of it. In the end, I was left with a beautiful and functional piece of recycled art. There are many options for DIY Junk Art tutorials online. People all over the world are turning to Junk Art as a creative and profitable way to recycle. Not only can Junk Art improve the lives of the artists, such as in the case of the Kiwaiyu artists who financially benefit from their creations, but Junk Art also has a low impact on the environment because materials that would otherwise end up in the trash take on a new, more beautiful form.

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