You'll Never Guess What This Artist's Paintings Are Made From

Commercial mail. Most of us receive it. Most of us feel we get too much of it. Most of us don’t do much about it.

Not the case for artist Sandhi Schimmel Gold, who transforms what she calls “junk mail” of all forms and sizes into works of art. The Phoenix-based artist upcycles paper waste of all types including advertisements, menus, greeting cards, calendars and even personal tax forms, to create amazing portraits.

Each artwork, which can take weeks to create, is made with reused canvas and frames, acid-free adhesives and lacquers, and is water-based and nontoxic, creating what she calls a marriage of beauty and ecology.

Photo: Sandhi Schimmel Gold

Schimmel Gold's works are on display at the Springs Preserve Museum in Las Vegas through March 14. Photo: Sandhi Schimmel Gold

Schimmel Art was founded with a mission “to create extraordinary fine art while reusing materials that might go to waste.” Her inspiration was a portrait she saw in Venice that was made from tiny and colorful glass fragments.

However, the piece was too heavy to purchase and carry by train, so Schimmel Gold decided to make a similar rendering at home. According to her Web site, after some trial and error, she decided to use printed matter instead of glass or tile.

“In my world, words, numbers and sound are infused with color,” Schimmel Gold says. “I do see things differently. My brain is the projector – placing images on blank canvas.”

Americans receive an estimated 560 pieces of commercial mail per person each year, creating enough paper waste to circle the globe more than 240 times if laid end to end. Roughly 50 percent of this paper waste ends up in landfills, even though it is 100 percent recyclable.

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