Is education one of the keys to reducing the impact on our planet? I certainly believe it is, and so does Carla Tugues Saura, a Venezuelan-based artist being featured in this week’s Artist Spotlight. June2art8.jpg Carla, a graduate of the Instituto de Diseño de Caracas (Institute of Design in Caracas), started creating art at a young age, and being that Carla is an artist, it’s expected she would be inspired by other great artists. She cites some of her inspiration as Venezuelan artists such as Carlos Cruz Diez and Jesus Soto. Both have pieces located in Venezuela, as well as installations world-wide, and Carla was lucky enough to be able to grow up around their artwork in Caracas. One of her other inspirations is one that can seem unexpected when approaching art: math. When obtaining her degree in graphic design, and even as a young child, Carla was interested in math, specifically its application to and in everything around us. It certainly shows in some of her pieces. The geometric patterns in some of her sculptures below are a great examples of this. slabs.jpg It’s evident Carla has both an art and a math background. She can transform soda cans into something so striking, beautiful and geometric. Her mixture of math and art doesn’t end with just these wall-pieces. When upcycling cans, Carla will make use of the entire soda can. Her magnets, for example, are made from the bottoms of the can while the wall sculpture above is made from the body. The magnets are simple, but also reflective of her background in mathematics and design. buttons.jpg They are perfect circles, and come in an array of different colors and styles. Carla enjoys discovering the dance that math and color do together, the surprising results it yields. While Carla’s art is mostly made up of the aluminum cans described above, it certainly isn’t limited to that material. She does a wonderful job of re-using packaging. For example, corrugated cardboard and cereal boxes make up the packaging for these magnets. June2art5.jpg Carla also uses plastic bottles and tennis ball tubes to make packaging for her eco-jewelry. june2art.jpg It’s a great way to make a more finished-looking product and still re-use something. I’m actually very surprised by how polished her pieces look with that packaging. june2art2.jpg I got a very firm “yes” from Carla when I asked her whether she believes eco-art will ever become mainstream. Her prediction, she explained, is based on the overall growing interest worldwide of reusing and recycling. She also attributed the future success of this art style to the limitless creativity it has to offer. Carla even made an interesting point about the accessibility of eco-art and how it’s an art form open to both amateurs and professionals. Waste is everywhere. You don’t need to be of any class in order to be able to get at the materials. Sculpting out of granite or stone, on the other hand, gets expensive. According to Carla, Venezuela does not maintain a robust recycling program, and the government has little interest in the matter. That being said, part of Carla’s inspiration is to try and change this. Her art is made to deliver a message: These cans and other waste are not just waste! They can be earrings, magnets, fine art and anything else imaginable. What I liked most about talking to Carla was hearing her thoughts on education. So much of her art is focused on communicating with people and educating them about recycling. Her philosophy is education begins at home – if there are more parents concerned about recycling, we will have a generation with a greater capability of changing many of the things we are doing wrong right now. Children are important, but Carla doesn’t undervalue the fact that it isn’t too late for adults to learn, either. Fixing everyday behaviors is a simple place for people to start, where they can start helping environment now, Carla stated. Modifying the way we shop is a great place to start. “When we buy something we are buying the ‘something’ as well as the packaging, so the waste becomes our responsibility; if we take that into consideration, we are able to shop wisely and choose things that have a lower impact on our planet,” explained Carla. Carla is of the mindset that the growing consciousness of our impact on our planet is one of the most important accomplishments of our time. The fact that every day more and more people are concerned with recycling what we produce is great for our planet’s future. This sort of inspiration is what a country needs when its interest in recycling is lacking. Carla is currently an emerging artist. She hasn’t been in any shows yet, but very easily could be and I predict she will. She is aiming to make it into a show within three months, and I hope we over at RecycleNation get to hear all about it when she does! If you’d like to keep up to date about Carla, you can find her on the web in a few different places: