Artists are bringing recycling to a new level of creative expression, taking materials that are destined for the landfill and turning them into original works of art. There are many examples of artists taking everyday trash and turning it into treasure. For example, if you were strolling around Lake Nokomis in the Minneapolis area from the summer of 2010 through spring of 2011, you were able to enjoy some talented artists’ recycled works of art.

Albert Belleveau's "Recycled Deer." Photo courtesy of Lisa Dunn.
One piece, entitled “Recycled Deer,” was created using motorcycle gas tanks and car and bike parts. Gas tanks made up the head, body and hind legs of the deer. Door hinges curved up for ears and the antlers were created with handle bars. The springs that make up the neck and innards were shock springs from under a car. This charming metal animal, constructed by artist Albert Belleveau, paid homage to the living deer that grace the park.

“We make art to see better.” — Albert Belleveau
Sadly, vandals stole the head off the deer in September 2010. Belleveau was rather philosophical about the incident. “Somebody liked it so much that they decided to take it home as a souvenir,” he remarked.

Judd Nelson's "Blue Herron with Pumpkin Seed." Photo courtesy of Steffanie Musich.

Another piece by Judd Nelson of Wayzata, MN, “Blue Heron with Pumpkin Seed,” was constructed using recycled metal and rebar. He also created “Snappy,” a sculpture depicting a turtle. “Snappy” was made from salvaged metals. The shell is made from a dome off a propane tank. The body is made from rebar and old plate steel.

Nelson explains that his sculptures focus on American wildlife, especially “the fauna of the North Central region.” “The sculptures are made from salvaged and reclaimed steel, making them environmentally friendly,” he says. “The durability of steel lends itself to the natural landscape and will require minimal maintenance.” Creative minds can find beauty in most anything, and there really is no end to what kind of art can be created with one of the most cost-effective mediums available: trash.