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