Today’s Artists That Have Turned Recycling Into an Art

As art has continued to evolve and be contemplated, artists around the world have expanded what can be construed as an artistic medium. Today, artists continue to push the boundaries of how we perceive trash, arguing that there is indeed life after death. Learn more about the artists who’ve made masterpieces from what others might never glance at twice.


Jane Perkins

Perkins takes recycling very seriously within her art. So much so that she has even written a thesis about it. Perkins has become known for utilizing unwanted materials and creating collage-technique versions of existing masterpieces. The results are startlingly similar renditions of famed works, such as the Mona Lisa and Girl with a Pearl Earring.


Michelle Reader

Now a recycled material artist for nearly twenty years, Reader incorporates forgotten materials into sculptures of all shapes and sizes. She often incorporates mechanical elements such as clocks. Over the years, she has been known to scavenge city dumps, demolition sites, and anywhere else that might provide her with items that have discarded history. One of her most notable sculptures is Seven Wasted Men, a family portrait that was made from a month of household waste from the family it was based on. It tells a story about the family through the items they had discarded, be it a child’s drawing or a birthday card.


Wim Delvoye

Delvoye has worked with a variety of mediums, but his work with class b recycling material, tires, was what first caught our attention at Jefferson Recycling. The Belgian artist has taken the craft of hand carving tires to a different level, creating extreme levels of detail. They often juxtapose the beauty of nature against industry, featuring beautiful flowers and vines within the tire’s rubber.


Tim Noble & Sue Webster

The dynamic duo is one of the few artists on this list who doesn’t work exclusively with recycled materials, but their creative brilliance merits inclusion on this list. Distorting our viewpoints of what an image truly represents, Noble and Webster have created shadow sculptures that are indecipherable when directly looking the scraps of junk. But when you turn your eyes to the wall, the results are startlingly detailed silhouettes. One of their earlier pieces, Sunset Over Manhattan (2003), utilized cigarette packets, tin cans and a wooden bench to create the New York skyline.


Susan Stockwell

Described by the New York Times’ Sylvane Gold, Stockwell’s works are often elegant and eerie. Varying in medium and style, Stockwell loves taking on projects both big and small. Much of her materials are sourced from domestic or industrial settings, both common and familiar to the eye yet twisted together to create something altogether different. Stockwell also enjoys the concept of borrowing her materials for an installation, only to return them at the conclusion. For instance, this occurred in her exhibition Flood. Four tons of computer components were installed inside of a 13th century church and then later returned to their IT recycling facility.


Bring New Life to Discarded Materials

Jefferson Recycling prides itself on giving old materials new life. Whether they end up in a piece of art or a new home, much of what is thrown out can be used once more! Do you have old concrete, brick, block, brush, or stumps to be recycled? Our facility in Lake Hopatcong is ready to service you any way we can. Contact us today.