NYC GF: “This art doesn’t speak English. It doesn’t speak French. But it asks you to think before you throw something away.”
Sometime in 2011, the artist George Sabra was approached by a neighbor in his hometown of Austin, TX, who had been collecting unrecyclable plastic bottle caps for years. She had more than 400 bottle caps from items like soda pop, peanut butter, and laundry detergent, made from #5 plastic, which could not be accepted at the local recycling center. Knowing that Sabra could make creative sculpture out of unusual materials, she asked Sabra if he could use her collection.
“And I thought to myself, how beautiful is this woman?” says Sabra. “How she has an awareness that won’t let her simply throw these caps ‘away,’ it inspired to me think how to show this to other people.”
Sabra says he put the bag in his studio, where he would have to encounter them regularly, helping him think about what to do with the caps. Then one day, he took a call from the city of Austin, asking him to create an original sculpture for a sustainability fair.
“The next day, I was drinking a coffee, and watching these wild swaying bulrushes,” says Sabra, and the idea of a new sculpture came to him.
With the help of hundreds of volunteers in Austin, who cleaned streets, lakes, streams and rivers, collecting thousands of plastic caps polluting the Austin environment, Sabra built a 21-foot-high sculpture made from 25,000 discarded caps. The sculpture made its debut in Austin in 2011, and makes its New York City debut at this year’s Green Festival. Its ultimate destination is unclear at present, but wherever the sculpture travels, its purpose remains the same, says Sabra. He uses human-made polluting materials to mimic the forms of the natural environment, and lets the viewer draw her own conclusions.