Monday, September 6, 2010

The Fine Art of Recycling

“Serendipity. Look for something, find something else, and realize that what you've found is more suited to your needs than what you thought you were looking for.”
~ Lawrence Block

New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art came late to collecting modern art, but it continues to add wonderful work. This remarkable sculpture, "Dusasa II," by the Ghanaian artist and university teacher El Anatsui, is a 2008 acquisition.

The first thing you notice is how enormous it is — approximately 20 x 24 feet. Then, as you take in its soft folds and undulations, you go in for a closer look.

The sign on the wall tells you "Dusasa II" is woven from bits of aluminum, copper wire and liquor bottle caps that litter the landscape of West Africa.

It's hard to believe unless you're right there staring at it.

Rice University's Rice Gallery filmed El Anatsui and collaborators as they created a massive installation called "Gli (Wall)" earlier this year. The gallery's website notes that the artist's huge tapestries "recall kente cloth, the emblematic fabric of Ghana. Anatsui’s father and brothers wove the kente of the Ewe people." Click here to see the artist discuss his work as it's being assembled.

"In the field of observation, chance favors only the prepared mind."
~ Louis Pasteur


  1. There's a fabulous piece by El Anatsui in the permanent collection of the De Young Museum in San Francisco. It's made of recycled bottle tops, and it takes up most of a wall on the second floor. You can see the entire piece here:

    And here's a close-up view:

  2. Thank you! That's a wonderful thing. El Anatsui is such an interesting artist. I read somewhere that recycling bottle tops and cans is common in West Africa. People use this sort of detritus to make handbags and similar things as we might use fabric scraps to make a quilt.