“Plastiquarium.” The word describes a combination of post-consumer plastic and aquarium. This is what Dave Edgar calls his work as a sculptor. The idea for Edgar’s art came after working on fabricated steel sculpture for about 30 years when he moved to Charlotte, NC, and set up a welding studio in his home. It started as he noticed the colorful and resourceful materials in neighbors’ recycling bins during his morning walks around the neighborhood. It was not long before the Plastiquarium came to life. The Plastiquarium consists of different sculptures in the forms of fish, jellyfish and human faces made out of recycled detergent bottles. Each sculpture has a memorable name, from “Barb-Tailed Electra” to “Pink-Eyed Terror.” Most of the materials in Edgar’s sculptures are made of recycled detergent bottles that came from recycling bins in his neighborhood. He works with the plastic by cutting it apart, reshaping it and attaching different pieces together, with no new colors or paint added. According to his artist statement, Edgar’s work had been influenced by the 20th century tradition of found-object assembly, which consists of taking objects that are not usually considered art and recreating them into art. While he felt his previous work in fabricated steel sculpture drew on academic intellect, working on the Plastiquarium focuses on unique creativity and aesthetics. Edgar and his wife, Robin, came out with Fantastic Recycled Plastic in 2009, a book that gives instructions on 30 different artistic projects for which recyclable plastics can be used. Trying to recreate the multiple colors of Edgar’s sculptures through the steps in Fantastic Recycled Plastic can brighten up any room. In fact, his artist statement declares his hope that the work will bring contrast to an increasingly stressful society. Edgar’s sculptures range from anywhere between $25 and $1,250, and they can be found online at his Etsy shop or at The Society for Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh, The San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco and The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA. Fantastic Recycled Plastic can be purchased online or at fine bookshops across the U.S.
Dave Edgar’s ‘Plastiquarium’ Turns Recyclables into Art
Sculptor Dave Edgar became inspired to create recycled art after noticing his neighbors’ recyclables in his Charlotte, NC, neighborhood.