The next time you’re browsing your local bookstore, pick up a copy of the new book from Ripley’s Believe it or Not!, called Enter If You Dare!.
While you’re flipping through the pages of incredible oddities, varying from a man with a 24-inch bicep to a quarter-mile bench in Masuhogaura, Japan that can seat up to 1,350 people, you’ll run across a chapter featuring some truly unbelievable recycled art.
This year’s edition of the best-selling annual series features 28 glossy pages of trash-to-treasure art and the stories behind the ingenious artists who created them.
“If art is your thing, we’ve got you covered,” says Edward Meyer, vice president of exhibits and archives for Ripley’s Believe it or Not!. “There are a lot of artists out there that are doing some very creative things out of materials most of us would just throw away.”
The unbelievable art featured in Enter If You Dare! includes an 8-foot tall angel sculpture made from recycled plastic children’s toys and an elaborate wedding gown made entirely of recycled paper, but Meyer and the folks at Ripley’s aren’t just looking for a pretty picture.
They say the artists’ stories are what really keeps people interested.
“Sharing a person’s personal story is a big part of what Ripley’s is all about,” says Meyer. “The final product is interesting, but why they did it, who they are and how they learned their talent is the real meat of the story.”
The fascinating forces driving these trash-to-treasure artists to create are not only interesting to Ripley’s readers and museum-goers.
Edward Meyer finds them pretty compelling himself, which is why he personally purchased most of the featured recycled artwork for Ripley’s museums around the globe.
“Anyone who is my age bought music on cassette tapes in the 1970s and 1980s,” he says, illustrating one of his favorite trash-to-treasure stories. “Anybody who has those knows that every once in a while they get caught in your machine, and you’re left crying that you’ve lost a favorite album.”
“Well, an artist named Erika Simmons from Atlanta, Ga. took those old crumpled cassette tapes and turned them into portraits of rock and roll stars,” he continues. “She displays musicians made out of their music, which is something that no one else is doing. They’re really one-of-a-kind.”
Simmons’ art, entitled Ghosts of the Machine, features legends from Jimi Hendrix to John Lennon, and they can be seen at Ripley’s museums worldwide.
Some more of Meyer’s personal favorites include Wonder Woman-style lingerie sets fashioned entirely out of recycled Coca-Cola cans by Massachusetts artist Ingrid Goldbloom Bloch and another Massachusetts artist with a passion for fish.
Boston native Tom Deininger first began his expedition in trash-to-treasure art with an insanely life-like trout he created out of 40 different pieces of garbage he found in his home.
He has since fashioned garbage replicas of all the different species of trout in the world, and when he was finished, he moved on to creating other fish families.
Meyer purchased the Rainbow Trout featured in Enter If You Dare! for one of Ripley’s museums and was amazed by it’s quality.
“The Rainbow Trout is absolutely gorgeous,” Meyer gushes. “You couldn’t have made it more life-like out of anything, and to think that he’s done it out of odds and ends that he found in the house makes it really unbelievable.”
And Deininger’s fishy creation will likely not be lonely on the museum walls of Ripley’s Believe it or Not!. It will have plenty of other recycled art to keep it company.
“Virtually every piece of art we’ve bought in the last few years is somehow tied to recycling,” says Meyer. “I would hazard to say every one of our 31 museums has at least one piece of recycled art, and many have several.”
If you head down to your nearest Ripley’s museum, you may spot some finds you won’t see in Enter If You Dare!, but keep your eyes out for them in future Ripley’s publications.
“We’ll definitely revisit this subject in our books as often as we have enough material to do it, and I don’t see us running out of material,” says Meyer. “We are seeing this kind of art almost every day in our office. People are coming to us with very unique ideas and concepts that we’ve never seen before.”
Some other awesome recycled artwork that can be found in Enter If You Dare! include telephone book carvings by Pennsylvania artist Alex Queral and portraits painted on egg cartons, which German artist Enno de Kroon has dubbed “Eggcubism.”