One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Nigerian artist and visionary El Anatsui has proven this cliche true to say the least. Upon learning that local liquor companies in his homeland were throwing away the seals and bottle caps when refilling liquor bottles, he saw an opportunity for a new, FREE medium for his artwork. Spending endless afternoons collecting pieces of “trash” from the Nigerian distilleries, Anatsui and his crew of young artists would flatten their countless bottle caps and fold the labels into thin colorful strips.
These pieces would then be catalogued by color and shape- then using copper, chicken-coop-type wire, Anatsui would spend hours stringing everything together. Sometimes taking months to complete, these industrial tapestries would turn into breathtaking installations flittering with gold, red and green flecks which all glistened in the sunlight.
Sometimes compared to Klimt or Monet, Anatsui confesses that he’s not inspired by these artists at all. Instead, he’s motivated to create art on more of a spiritual level. With names like Earth’s Skin and Woman’s Cloth, Anatsui’s installations go on display in February at the prestigious Brooklyn Museum in New York City.