"I can't find it!!" might have been something I called out to my mom as a tiny version of myself dives head first (with feet dangling in mid-air) into a bucket full of matchbox cars seeking out a very specific vehicle. A bucket to which at some point in the not-to-distant past to this event, held some sort of adhesive for putting up drywall, but had been converted into a toy box for us kids. <> This might be a dramatic re-imagination, but the scenario holds true. <> As far back as I can recall, my mother reused everything she could -just like that bucket, of which she still has a few sitting in her basement till this day- for whatever purpose it could be used for from her perspective. And these choices had nothing to do with protecting the environment, saving the rain forest, being mindful, or reducing ones waste. Nope! <> It had everything to do with the complete lack of money to purchase the items she needed/wanted. As a result, she reused anything she could out of necessity. And while at the time she might have been depressed at what she couldn't afford, or what she had to reuse, what she would provide me with through these events that would surface later in my life would be far more valuable than any item she could possibly ever buy. <> Inadvertently, she planted the seeds in my subconscious to 'reuse', that would (eventually) allow me to grow into the person I am today. <> In my early twenties the seeds started to take root. By slowly wrapping through my interests in art, creation, mindfulness, observation, and life in general, I began to gravitate towards items that the world viewed as trash, but I viewed as limitless potential to create something new. <> I started to collect items that were around me, such as: used drum heads, beer bottle caps, Netflix Tearaways, and bus pass tickets, with no real plan for any of them. Only having the feeling that one day I would create something from these items referred to as 'trash'. <> As we fast forward to present times, my philosophies, art, lifelong learning, and reuse, have fused into a big tumbling ball of proverbial trash, which I climb on, jump over, smash things into, and sometimes get stuck in. All the while steamrolling down an ever steeper mountain, and occasionally rocketing off a hidden cliff to embark on a completely different path…or end up smashing head first into a rock face! Which sometimes is desperately needed, but always incredibly painful. <> Part of what I am is: a Reuse Artist. <> The materials I work with have been trashed or discarded. My work presents a fun and exciting challenge as the specific materials available are not ubiquitous. Even though the world is covered in trash, the trash I have access to is limited in color, size, shape, and amount. Therefore, creating any piece entails a great deal of foresight into the color palate i have, size of the image, composition of the materials being used, and varying other areas of limitation. Typically I have just enough material to complete the piece I'm working on. Which is good, as all the trashed materials will have been reused! <> With my work and actions, I'm attempting to create something beautiful out of the castaways of our over-consumption, in the hopes of inspiring others (and myself) to rethink the world we live in, how we live, and what we use. And to hopefully galvanize individuals into cleaning up, protecting, and preserving the world we all live in through speaking up, personal action, decision making, and simply being mindful of the world around us. <> Trash is everywhere, I can't walk a quarter mile without seeing some form of garbage discarded by a human. We overuse, abuse, and discard our world without a second thought. In my work, I utilize used, discarded, and un-recyclable items, bringing to light the fact that what is considered 'trash' isn’t trash at all. By turning those items into art, I'm attempting to bring to light the idea that nothing we create should be wasted, or simply discarded after use. <> Ultimately, if we make something, it should be made to be re-used perpetually, not simply disposed of, to avoid polluting our land, air, water, and thereby ourselves, and the creatures we live with. Putting something in a bag, a can, the air, the water, or a hole in the ground, and walking away, is not an answer. It simply creates a whole new set of problems. <> My motivations for what I do can be as simple as the goal of leaving this place in better shape than when I arrived. But they can also be diverse and intense. My battle with advanced Glaucoma and the threat of imminent blindness is one of the intense driving forces in my life. It has been with me since birth, and has advanced steadily as I’ve grown. There is no cure for this disease. For me, being an artist and observing my progressing vision loss is frightening, and sometimes it gets the best of me. However, the drive it instills in me to reach farther, quicken my pace, and to be better, not just in art, but in everyday life, and to push, Push, PUSH…is powerful. <> Beyond everything else, I hope that my work and actions inspire others to take a second look at their lives. It’s never too late to RETHINK how we live, use, and reuse. It’s never too late to make a positive change in the world we inhabit. <> I am a Reuse Artist, and this is my journey to a ZERO (or as close as I can get to it) footprint. <> @mtastwo
Martin Thomas's ArtPrize Entries
These are Martin Thomas's official ArtPrize entries from this year and past years.