Art to Meow About!

I love the notion of recycling “garbage” into art, especially since so much of my recovery from bipolar disorder has involved repurposing a life trashed by mental illness into a newly beautiful one, demonstrating the dignity, determination, and drive needed to beat the odds.

In 2006 my cat Tashi died.  I had loved her as a stray kitten, 7 weeks old, and she loved me through the worst of my illness, that is until I lost her after nearly 18 years of purrs and precious memories.  However, toward the end of her life, Tashi could eat only canned cat food, so I determined to recycle the empty containers into art that imaged the lovely exchange we shared, the nourishment I provided her for the years of  nurture she provided me. 

Tashi in 2006, the last year of her life

I hope you enjoy this art, two pieces in particular made to remember a cat I adored.

The first–a wooden board that I painted with a purple and green checker board pattern–incorporates 10 empty cat food cans.  I removed the labels and spray-painted the outside of 9 cans silver, before applying a lavender, high-gloss enamel to the inside.  Only the bottom of the 10th yellow can faces outward to create visual interest.

Now close-up shots of a few individual cans–

First, a yellow antique button attached to the top of soda lid painted to match:

Next, a circle cut from a Godiva chocolate box and affixed to a larger circle of sunflower paper:

A center square, cut from Waffle House coupons, and attached to a  circle of feminist text about language:

Lady bug ribbon attached to a felt-covered circle of cardboard:

A series of concentric circles–calicoed, texted, and Barnes & Noble labeled:

What matters most about art–the insight gleaned from looking at it:

The second mixed-media piece incorporates the labels from the cat food cans above, along with polymer clay beads and collaged scraps of junk mail:

This piece is based on principles of balance (as Tashi helped bring it to my so-often, out-of-balance moods) and mirroring (since she reflected the best parts of myself back to me and taught me to love myself unconditionally, as she did):

I made the beads from yellow, green, and red polymer clay baked in a toaster oven, while the “Have you seen us text” was cut from mailers for missing children:

The “still, small point of the turning world:”

And finally focusing on the center that is  sanity, that is love, even the love of a feline:

Has an animal ever brought you comfort in a way nothing else could? 

Have you ever memorialized a pet in a creative way?

Check out these other fun pet posts about the dogs I love:

Canines in Conical Hats: Lucy Does Vietnam

An Unfortunate Incident about the International Trafficking of Canines and What I haven’t Learned since Then

If you’ve written pet posts of your own, please leave links in the comments below.

29 thoughts on “Art to Meow About!

  1. Yes, to your first question. Lucy (cat) and Rosie (dog) are with me constantly. On really bad days, they lie close to me and seem to watch over me. This morning, I was struggling to get out of bed, and they impressed on me the need to prepare their breakfast! 🙂

    No, to your second question. I’m not as creative as you. I do have a lot of photographs of our former pets that I want to do something with though.

    Tashi was such a beautiful cat! Those incredible eyes in that colouring are stunning.

    Kathy, I haven’t had the opportunity to comment on some of your recent posts, but I’ll do so on the weekend. I like the way that you’ve approached this “series” – taking individual topics or extracts from you journals and building your posts around them. It’s been very informative and at the same time very interesting to read.


  2. Tashi was gorgeous! Cats (and dogs) are amazing creatures, and I can’t image life without them. I’ve done several blog posts of my own on cats, including a series on cats who have lived with me — one of whom shares my chair as I write. And I really enjoy the photos of your art, Kathy.


  3. I prefer the second piece…vibrant colours, symmetry, geometric patterns…all stuff I love!

    I love my dog, and the fact that he’s always happy to see me whether I’ve been gone for five minutes or a week!



  4. Tashi looked like such a sweet spirit! I love how detailed and intricate these pieces are. You could stare and stare, come back tomorrow to stare some more, and always see something new. Absolutely beautiful!


  5. What a heartwarming tribute Kathy! I think this is what art should be: meaningful and memorable to the artist and viewer.

    They say that if you open your heart, you get the pets that you need in that time of your life rather than the pet that you want. Reggie is an inspiration to me every day!


    • I’m so glad you enjoyed this post, Jacqueline! You are absolutely right. I believe God sends purr-fect (sorry, couldn’t help myself!) pets into our lives at just the right time! Thanks so much for this comment. I agree that art is a beautiful way to remember—————–


  6. I love both pieces! You are so incredibly talented. I may have to do something creative now when it comes time to say goodbye to my dog(s), which hopefully will not happen too soon.


  7. How creative, Kathy! I really like the geometric themes in these pieces– I’m all about bright colours, symmetry, and patterns. 🙂

    Our pup brought us immeasurable joy until she passed away last year. We didn’t create any artwork to immortalize/honour her memory, but we did put up some photos of us together in our house, and we make special offerings (prayers, burning incense, etc.) at one of our favourite hiking spots every now and then.


    • Ah, Dana, I remember reading about your dog. How wonderful what you and Marty do to remember her! Have to say that that I really like the geometric stuff, as well. Hope you’re enjoying your weekend———–


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