Artist sends message about throwaway culture through incredible animal sculptures (PHOTOS)

One street artist, Artur Bordalo, uses larger-than-life art to ask a big environmental question: Have we forgotten that we are all stewards of the earth?

Oeiras, Portugal. Photo courtesy of Artur Bordalo.

Bordalo II, a Portuguese artist whose full name is Artur Bordalo, is opening the world’s eyes to waste, one trash sculpture at a time.

By constructing large-scale sculptures of wild animals from scavenged materials in the streets of Lisbon, Portugal, Bordalo is asking people to look harder at our waste—in more ways than one. Whether it’s a bright green iguana popping out from the side of a building or a pelican adorning a rusty old barge, Bordalo is making us stop and look at trash—trash that we would otherwise walk by or try to ignore. Bordalo says he is intent on making art that resonates, and that this series of found objects is to remind us that we are all stewards of the earth.

It’s not just a message that our trash can be re-purposed (though it can and should be) his art shows the sheer excess of trash we’re up against, and the beauty—the animals and land—that it harms.

In his artist statement, Bordalo writes, “I belong to a generation that is extremely consumerist, materialist and greedy. With the production of things at its highest, the production of ‘waste’ and unused objects is also at its highest … I create, recreate, assemble and develop ideas with end-of-life material and try to relate it to sustainability, ecological and social awareness.” His words echo many of the ideas that Pope Francis expressed about our throwaway culture in last year’s Laudato Si’, an encyclical on the environment, which talked about the delicate nature of our ecosystems, not designed to deal with industrial waste and by-products.

Estarreja, Portugal. Photo courtesy of Artur Bordalo.
Covilhã, Portugal. Photo courtesy of Artur Bordalo.
Wolf, Fundao, Portugal. Photo Courtesy of Arthur Bortaldo
Lisbon, Portugal. Photo courtesy of Artur Bordalo.
Stavanger, Norway. Photo courtesy of Artur Bordalo.
Lisbon, Portugal. Photo courtesy of Artur Bordalo.
Lisbon, Portugal. Photo courtesy of Artur Bordalo.
Águeda, Portugal. Photo courtesy of Artur Bordalo.
Lisbon, Portugal. Photo courtesy of Artur Bordalo.
Fort Smith, Arkansas. Photo courtesy of Artur Bordalo.

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Bordalo’s work, he says, conjures up the old idiom, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” But his art goes beyond that simple idea of finding art or beauty in unexpected places. It’s not just a message that our trash can be re-purposed (though it can and should be) his art shows the sheer excess of trash we’re up against, and the beauty—the animals and land—that it harms. For every animal that Bordalo creates from trash, there’s likely a real creature counterpart, suffering from waste-related issues.

These sculptures are asking us to look honestly at the throwaway culture we’ve built. And to see how it piles up, physically, in the real world. So let’s look. Let’s recognize the problem. And let’s remember that we all have more work to do, as stewards of the earth.

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