Annie becker - having fun with metal reuse
Sustainable metal artist
Annie Becker is an imaginative sustainable artist and founder of 'spare pARTs' based in Cleveland, Ohio.
After working in the corporate world she spent a lot of time creating - drawing, painting, assembling, mixing, gluing, etc. Experimenting inspired her to begin making found art assemblage sculptures, and she figured that was her her true calling.
All of her work has a common theme: it is created out of discarded and previously used materials. She creates quirky, silly and goofy characters out of waste rescued from dumpsters, vintage pieces from flea markets and estate sales, rusty and long forgotten tools and hardware. Using her own words " my artwork is about second chances and new beginnings. It's about making something out of nothing, and hopefully creating some happiness along the way."
Tell me something about you, how did you become a sustainable designer?
I’ve always cared a great deal about the environment and how we affect it.
It makes me sad to see how we are filling up land with garbage, how our cities and streets are strewn with trash.
For a short time I was painting dog faces on enamelware pot lids. One of the lids sat unused for months. It wasn’t pretty. Someone had taped over the knob a number of times. Then I finally saw i: this much loved pot was actually a dachshund nose! Now I started to see everything in a different way. My art represents this in all aspects.
Why do you think upcycling is important?
Upcycling is important because it’s one way to both save the past and take a step towards protecting our future. In a time where everything is instantaneous, we may have forever lost the craftsmanship of the past. Through art, some of these amazing pieces will bring new life, new appreciation for what it used to be. As upcycled art becomes more appreciated, things that had once been tossed in the garbage will become a renewable resource and a source for artistic inspiration.
How do you transform waste? Which kind of techniques do you use?
I love rusty, metal junk. Like a kid in a candy store, looking at it actually makes me happy.
How the colors change and combine. How they move through the piece creating an intense overlay, the patina adding a spectacular dimension of character. And the pieces below the rust and patina? Solid, imperfect, heavy, historical, advertising with a story to tell.
Finding the right combination of weights, shapes, colors and character takes contemplation and a bit of a different perspective. But when it all comes together, it’s no longer junk- it’s a treasure.
How can quarantine be a good moment for becoming more conscious and sustainable?
Staying in one place for so long makes you acutely aware of your surroundings and what surrounds you. What you need vs what you want; what has value vs window dressing; what’s truly important vs going through the fast-paced rituals of pre-pandemic life.
Unable to go to the grocery store every day makes it possible to eat ALL the food you’ve bought. Having time to go through closets and cupboards has created bags and boxes of useful donations. The desire to hug a friend you haven't seen in weeks becomes a driving force.