Repel, Reuse, Recycle

2020, Installation made from aluminum cans

The Consequences of Living

2020, Installation created from plastic refuse

Art

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I create my art with the intention of spreading awareness to my audience about urgent environmental issues and provide solutions to them. These issues include pollution, consumerism, excessive waste, habitat restoration, and sustainable food practices. My process involves experimenting with unconventional materials to reduce or even eliminate the waste produced, thus decreasing my carbon footprint. For instance, Terrazzo to Go utilizes blended scraps of cardboard left from tearing shipping boxes up to feed the worms in my vermicompost bin. Instead of throwing away the scraps, I used them to invent a new material. I apply this idea of bridging the gap in the cycle of waste to all of my works to make my art a part of the solution to combating climate change. My art practice used to be simply making pretty drawings and paintings, but once I realized the urgent state of our environmental crisis, I felt a need to use my art as a platform for environmental activism, to inspire my audience to continue pondering the issues my art brings up long after they have walked away. In my evolution as an artist, I strive to make my art functional, so that instead of taking up space in a closet, it can be used in daily life while still acting as a reminder that the ecological balance of the environment is in danger. I produce this work so that environmental awareness always stays at the top of our minds.

Some awards I have received include:

- Division Winner in the OC Fair Imaginology Art Contest

- Finalist for the USA National Association of State Aviation Officials Art Contest

- 3rd place in the California State International Aviation Art Contest

- 2nd Place in the 29th Annual John Wayne Airport Art Contest

- 2nd place in the 13th Annual Ravi Varma Memorial Art Competition

- Published artist in the Fall 2018 “Celebrating Art” Book

My friend had me grow some native California seeds as part of his biology project to support local endangered pollinators. This ink drawing depicts flowers non-native to California to address the issue of invasive species, though it’s not apparent at first glance. The composition is an artificial arrangement created for purely aesthetic reasons, rather than a scene revealing a moment in nature. This is to highlight how invasive species are often introduced for aesthetics or some other arbitrary benefit to humans, without considering the impact on the species already present. Invasive species thrive in non-native environments because of an absence of natural predators, leaving native plants vulnerable and unable to compete with these unfamiliar species. The rapid rate of the disappearance of endangered species as a result of human actions has pushed me to be more vocal about environmental issues and find means by which to spread awareness about them.

Horror Vacui

Horror Vacui

Filling in the Void

Filling in the Void

Second Life

Second Life

Second Life

Second Life

Terrazzo to Go

Terrazzo to Go

Terrazzo to Go

Terrazzo to Go

Repel, Reuse, Recycle

Repel, Reuse, Recycle

Table to Farm

Table to Farm

Table to Farm

Table to Farm

Table to Farm

Table to Farm

The Consequences of Living

The Consequences of Living

The Consequences of Living

The Consequences of Living

Life Cycle

Life Cycle

My Dream to Fly

My Dream to Fly

Solace

Solace

Upcycled Viola

Upcycled Viola

Elemental Harmony

Elemental Harmony

2018

2018

Vienna

Vienna

One in the Same

One in the Same

Feeling Blue

Feeling Blue

Ophelia

Ophelia

In contrast to Horror Vacui, this piece depicts the native California poppies I grow in my backyard. I have done this to participate in larger efforts to restore habitats for native pollinators and other species within the diminished local ecosystem that have been pushed out by non-native plants, which are more prevalent in a suburban environment. When invasive species are removed, the native plants need to be replanted to bring the local ecosystem back to equilibrium. Once they return in full force, they can once again thrive within the natural balance of their specific ecosystem. Some of the native plants that are beneficial to this process may not be aesthetically pleasing in the conventional sense, but perhaps this means we should reexamine the conventions of aesthetics. We should allow ecosystems to remain in balance without altering them to our momentary whims or introducing factors that could permanently shift their balance.

My parents are immigrants and taught me to reuse everything I possibly could. I made the drawing paper by creating a pulp out of the refuse of my now obsolete homework packets originally bound for the landfill. Making my own paper was the beginning of my journey as an environmental artist, as it was the first time I started to think outside the bounds of flat paintings or drawings and experiment with unconventional materials. The subjects of this composition are all household trash that has been repurposed. Nature ultimately consists of cycles, so the best way to honor that is by giving a second life to items that would otherwise spend eternity in landfills. Many households like mine can’t afford to buy exclusively from expensive sustainable brands, so reusing things is an equitable way for most people to reduce their carbon footprint. Sustainability is about doing the best you habitually can within your means.

For this piece, I blended scraps of cardboard left from tearing boxes up to feed the corrugated cardboard in the middle to the worms in my vermicompost bin. I pounded the pulp flat with a meat pounder and molded the wet paste over plastic takeout containers, then left them to bake in the sun. In a capitalist society, we are constantly told to only consume and ignore the consequences. However, this mindset has contributed largely to climate change, so it is now more crucial than ever to fight global warming with sustainability. By sustainability, I mean practices that reduce the waste we produce through up-cycling and being creative and conservative with the materials we consume daily. These terrazzo style takeout boxes offer an alternative use for commonplace household waste and a more eco friendly alternative to single-use plastic takeout containers. They easily decompose instead of taking up space in landfills.

Our utensil drawer had no room left from all the plastic utensils included in our takeout. To continue branching out from art that has only conceptual value anchored in aesthetics to art that is functional, I created spherical structures with plastic forks and attached mesh to form these “fruit guards” that block animals from eating the fruit on trees. Many restaurants have incorporated the sustainable food practice of farm-to-table. My installation plays off of this trend to suggest that the use of one’s hyperlocal resources, namely the junk drawer, can contribute to this strategy. Most households have plastic utensils, so practically anyone can easily replicate this product. Just like that, homeowners with fruit trees can have yard-to-table produce without using herbicides, avoid a gasoline fueled delivery system of that produce, and reduce the amount of waste in landfills.

Sure, aluminum cans can be recycled, but throwing one into the recycling bin is still contributing to unnecessary waste. During the hot summer months, my family consumed an inordinate amount of canned beverages such as Arizona green tea and sparkling water. I was also volunteering at a local sustainable aquaponics farm, and seeing both the process and obstacles of growing vegetables made me wonder how I could use art to solve the issue of birds and other animals eating the crops. I started experimenting with these cans by cutting them into different shapes and strips, then punching holes in them and stringing them along wires. I then realized I could mimic the shape of a bird’s eye, resulting in a more effective bird repellent than the ones that are already on the market. The reflective glint and bright colors of the metal cans repel birds even more than off-the-shelf plastic bird repellents.

Even environmentalists can’t constantly ponder environmental issues 24/7. Though I want the Great Pacific Garbage Patch gone, I don’t think about it every day because there’s no Texas-sized landfill floating right above me. This installation features a cube of condensed scrapped plastic refuse, representing an aggregate of the infinitesimally tiny plastic bits that would occupy a portion of the ocean around it. This serves to remind us that though our actions seem small in the moment, they have substantial repercussions. Even if the consequences may exist miles away in the form of invisible microplastics, they nevertheless exist, posing a grave danger to the organisms living within that indigestible mass. Humans are bound to make waste. That’s a consequence of living. However, that doesn’t mean we aren’t responsible for the waste we create and its impacts on other creatures inhabiting the same space.