Turning Trash Into Treasure

Virtual Exhibit

The Silvery Seas
by Arne Gutmann

Materials: Aluminum cans

Dimensions: 2' wide x 3' high x 1.5" deep


Artist Statement: 

"I have worked on projects using trash before and was excited about this one. This piece saw me wanting to create a wave of sorts to emulate the ocean and its beauty and power. The silver aspects were meant to represent the earth and the sky. The uniformity was done to accentuate the waves near the middle of the piece. 

To me the ocean symbolizes everything that we as humans are. The vastness and beauty culminating to what it is. A sacred source. A necessary requirement for humans. I was pleased to make this piece a reality.

I chose to use beer cans as my medium. I washed and cut the tops and bottoms of the cans in preparation. Then, I washed the inside of the cans and sized them by trimming the unwanted ends. Once the small sheets of aluminum were ready, I straightened them and cut them in to 1 inch by 3 inch strips. I then arranged and glued them to the backboard."

Anenome to Lakes and Oceans
by Cary Lopes

Materials: river floats, sunglasses, swimming goggles, toy- plastic boat, paint. 

Dimensions: 30" wide x 30" high x 9" deep

Artist Statement:

"My piece of art was created from the retrieved commercial items either discarded or lost in lakes. (Beauty and the enemy of the sea)

I used the fishing floats as they reminded me of the beautiful sea anemone that lives beneath the ocean. To add to the variety and dimension I incorporated retrieved pieces of sunglasses to imitate types of coral imbedded into its substrate. The ship wreck is a reminder of some of the lost treasures that still remains under the sea. The colourful watery effects surrounding the ‘flowers of the Ocean’ are reminders of the striking colours, effervescents and reflections that we all love to enjoy so much. And the creatures - just a tiny peek at a bit of whimsy to lighten our mood. (I just couldn’t resist adding this little guy when I came across him)."

Ghost Nets
by Cath Hughes

Materials: Collage, encaustic, beverage cans, aluminum wire on cradled birch panel. 

Dimensions: 30" wide x 40" high x 2" deep


Artist Statement: 


"‘Ghost Nets’ draws a thread between one toxic form of human pollution of our waters, and another, even more egregious form of ocean waste. Submerged aluminum cans are not a benign presence. A plastic product, ’vinylite’ ,was trademarked to coat the interior of the can, whilst toxic inks again coated with plastic are used for the logos on the exterior.


Aluminum cans in the water take approximately 200 years to decompose, whilst the plastic will never leave the water. I developed a technique to turn the cans into string-like lengths and chose to represent ‘ghost nets’ with the bound cords. Ghost nets are abandoned, lost or discarded nets haunting our oceans. Caught on coral reefs or floating free in the ocean, they continue to fulfil their original purpose unchecked, entangling whales, dolphins, turtles, birds and other marine life. Ghost nets and gear make up 46% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. My multi disciplinary art practice may take the form of assemblage, collage or mixed media painting. Much of my work repurposes found objects, materials or images, transforming and creating new meanings from their metamorphosis into artwork. Present throughout is an enquiry into cycles of construction, collapse and reconstruction."

Today's Catch 
by Cori Creed

Materials: Discarded aluminum cans and shotgun shells, beach wood, cotton string, porcelain and clay. 

Dimensions: 36" wide x 66" high x 1' deep at it's thickest point 


Artist Statement:

"Today’s Catch' is an abstraction of organic and inorganic elements that is meant to illustrate the melding of healthy aquatic life with the refuse that we are creating and disposing of irresponsibly. Shot gun shells and aluminum cans that were collected by Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans have been altered to mimic organic patterns and life forms."

Let the Raven Talk
by Karen Yaremkewich

Material: Sunglasses

Dimensions: 65" wide by 51" high 


Artist Statement:

"Let the Raven Talk” mixed media piece created using 153 pairs of sunglasses collected from local lakes and oceans. I chose the raven as my subject for multiple reasons. Because of its black plumage, croaking call, and diet of carrion, the raven is often associated with loss and ill omen. This seems fitting with our current climate crisis and the great loss our natural world is experiencing. Yet, their symbolism is more complex than that. Ravens are deeply intelligent beings and as a talking bird, the raven also represents prophecy and insight. I like to think that the Raven has a message to give us all to inspire us to make the necessary changes to our impact on our beautiful planet to preserve it for generations to come.


This art piece is part of the Diving In: The Art of Cleaning Lakes and Oceans Project. I have used wire mesh and wire to arrange the reclaimed sunglasses to represent a black raven, surrounded by trees, rocks and water all mounted into a reclaimed wooden frame."

Last Chance
by Joe Sauve

Materials: Scrap metals, aluminum cans, plastic paddles, lighters, spray paint, and miscelaneous trash retreived from lakes and oceans

Dimensions: 40" wide x 23" high 


Artist Statement: 

"This piece demonstrates a spawning salmon jumping upstream to complete the incredible journey back to where its life began.

Overcoming astounding challenges salmon swim towards their spawning grounds all the while deteriorating until they complete their mission. This journey is made more challenging by predators, geographic elements and most dramatically by overfishing, pollution and climate change.

When the salmon spawn and subsequently end their lives they are recycled back into the environment. Wildlife benefit from their nutrient rich catch and also carry them out of the rivers inland. As salmon decay they provide minerals and nutrients for the soil, strengthening the forests.

The noted decline in the salmon population is a visible and constant reminder of the need for change in our existence. Like the salmon, we humans are facing an incredibly difficult path; one where we are headed to our end as the world continues to be depleted.


I would like to look to the salmon as inspiration for our society to overcome the challenges that are faced. We need to work together towards big changes with and environmental and conservation focus. In hopes that all life cycles can continue on, in a healthy and sustainable way."

See Being Specimen #823,
See Being Specimen #310, 
See Being Specimen #4263,
See Being Specimen #8306

by Liz Nankin

Materials: Ocean debris, monofilament, acrylic house paint on canvas

Dimensions: 30" wide x 40" high x 2.5 deep 


Artist Statement: 

"I have been a costume designer in film and theater for 40 years, and a puppeteer for 12. My experience in sewing and construction are the foundations that support this visual narrative.  These pieces represent scientific specimens of animalia that have evolved from a sea of debris. As if pulled out of a drawer in a museum, they make us conscious of how we live and what we do with our stuff, be it a necessity of eyewear or disposable items that can be recycled before the debris becomes a destructive force. My pieces are tactile and connect to the action of collecting—see it—pick it up—and be responsible."

"Thank You, But I Don't Need Goggles"
by Michael Binkley & Olivia Richardson

Materials: Wood, metal, resin, acrylic, oyster shells & miscelaneous trash collected from lakes and oceans

Dimensions: 72" wide x 48" high x 11" deep 


Artist Statement: 

The Pacific Giant Octopus and giant Kelp are indigenous to the waters of Howe Sound, BC, Canada. Both are the largest of their species. The octopus is a highly intelligent creature, able to camouflage its skin’s colour and texture in the blink of an eye, is extremely dexterous and having no skeleton, can fit into the tiniest of places. The artists have depicted this octopus swimming in giant kelp, near the bottom of the ocean.

The octopus is equipped to see clearly in its environment. It certainly does not need goggles, as humans do to see underwater. It also does not need golf balls, plastic oars, vape cartridges or aluminum cans. These pieces of trash have been cast into the octopus’ environment by insensitive humans. They believe that if they can no longer see it, it must have disappeared, but they do not compute how their actions negatively impact the environment.

Downed Treasures
by Paulo Lopes

Materials: Aluminum cans, plastic paddles, miscelaneous trash, paint. 

Dimensions: 38" wide x 50" high x 5.5" deep


Artist Statement: 

I don’t know why, but the first imagery that came to my head was modern day Pirates partying and drinking. Most of the trash I received was discarded (beer) cans - so, colourful Pirates it was, with disregard to the consequences of their actions.