Sculptor turns landfill waste into art

Former MSU student and artist Brittany Watkins uses plastic shopping bags and a clothes iron to produce unique sculpture.

By TRISTAN ABBOTT/Montana State News

Local artist Brittany Watkins is using hundreds of items to create beautiful and meaningful art. For her “Repurposed” exhibit, currently at the MSU Exit Gallery, Watkins used over 600 plastic bags to create the display, all collected from the Bozeman area.

It took her just an estimated three months to collect the multitude of bags from the area, a stirring example of how many plastic bags are thrown away in the community.

“If it only takes one person three months to collect 600 bags, imagine how many more are out there” said Watkins, pointing to the sustainable message of her work.

To create her sculptures, Watkins used an everyday clothing iron to melt the bags together. The simplicity in this was a vital aspect to her work, as it neither took away nor added to the bags. The entire idea behind the project was to show that the bags can be turned into art without adding or taking away anything from them.

Stacey Ray, arts and exhibits director at Montana State University, said that the art has several layers of meaning, which is why they are so special. Despite the simplicity of the work, she says that each piece has such weight that people often have to look at them twice.

“At first glance, they are just plastic bags melted together, but once you really look at them, the scope of the project really hits you,” says Ray, who also pointed to the white on white visual effects that the works have as poignant and effective.

Combination of artistic beauty and a striking message gives Watkins’s works a surreal quality that has led to popularity. Watkins pointed to the fact that over 600 people have helped create these works of art, and that she hopes her message of mass production and sustainability can be portrayed through her sculptures.

Edited by Riley Pittenger. 

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