creating with unexpected materials

Brazilian-born artist Vik Muniz takes everyday materials to a new level.  He has been called a master illusionist, a brilliant trickster, and an incredible artistic visionary.  Muniz says his creativity stems from growing up in a difficult political climate, where he could not openly speak what was on his mind, and had to invent ways to carefully make his point.

Vik MunizClouds by Vik Muniz, skywriting over New York City

Once he hired a cropduster to fly over Manhatten to draw cartoon clouds in the sky. A cloud made out of clouds.

Vik MunizVik Muniz, Re-creation of a photo of Jackson Pollock made with Bosco syrup

I think this is hilariously appropriate, echoing Jackson Pollock’s way of flinging & dripping paint onto a canvas.

Vik MunizValicia Bathes in Sunday Clothes, Vik Muniz

He created “Valicia” by manipulating sugar on a black background.  And the story behind this one is more interesting than the art itself, which is pretty amazing.  Muniz was on vacation in St. Kitts when he started to hang out with some of the local children, who harvested sugar cane on the island.

He took pictures of them and even went to their houses to meet their parents, whom he described as “worn, tired people.” “What is it that disappears from the life of these really vibrant children to become those kind of grown-ups?” he asked himself. “I realized it was the product – sugar itself. The sweetest part of them is pulled out of them so we can use it.” – From the New York Times, Sugar Fixed By Ted Loos ,2004

Muniz took photographs, and these are displayed for his exhibitions.  This was very difficult, as simply bumping the table could destroy the delicate work.

Vik MunizVik Muniz, 16,000 Yards (Le Songeur, after Corot) (Pictures of Thread), 1996, Toned gelatin silver print, 20 x 24″, Courtesy Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York.

He re-creates famous artwork using reels of string, then names them for the amount of material used in the creation.

There is so much more to write about Muniz and his work – I find this artist fascinating.  If you have a little time, visit the TED website to watch a video and hear him speaking about creativity and his work.  He’s funny, and you can see some more of the amazing things he has done: Vik Muniz on TED.

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