Saturday, May 30, 2015

Recycling Artist Spotlight: Elisa Guerra

By Ryan O'Connor

Guatemalan eco-artist Elisa Guerra has been painting for more than 20 years, inspired by her native surroundings.
Are you creating eco-art? Know someone who is? Contact me on Twitter @_ryanoconnor

The list of countries from which I have been able to find eco-artists continues to grow! This week, I’m featuring Elisa Guerra, a professional painter, who was born and raised in Guatemala.

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Elisa had been creating art since she was a young girl but started to paint with oil and acrylic techniques 20 years ago. Since then, she has grown and developed many skills and styles of painting, including eco-art, which she started creating about 10 years ago.

She cites many inspirations for her art, such as the landscapes of Guatemala, the vibrating contrast of colors and the culture – all of which are clearly evident in many of her works. Take, for example, the bottle below that was both painted and photographed by Elisa

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It bears a very vibrant and colorful resemblance to Antigua, with Volcán de Agua towering high above the city. And if you’re not sure what either of those things are, take a peek at the image below captured by Flickr user Rambling Traveler.

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The above image was originally posted to Flickr as Agua Volcano, Arch of Santa Catalina, La Antigua Guatemala.

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Elisa has participated in art exhibitions for the last five years in Guatemala, in addition to selling her art to people around the world, including in the United States. She has upcoming exhibitions in Guatemala City and you can contact her for more information if you’re in the area!

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One day, Elisa hopes eco-art will become mainstream, explaining that it is necessary we become more creative in reusing the waste we create. This is true for painting upcycled materials, as well as just general practices of recycling: The more we develop innovative ways of reusing what we’ve created, the better off we’ll be. Elisa is particularly amazed at other eco-artists’. She says that each one is very different, but they all have a great input to the planet; each one bringing forth very cool and innovative ideas.

In Guatemala, in particular, Elisa was able to cite two specific eco-artists (who hopefully will one day be featured on this blog), Arturo Ruano and Roxana Giracca. Elisa also mentioned an artist from Indonesia who goes by the name Ono Gaf. I was only able to find limited information about Ono Gaf, but what I did find was pretty cool - he made an enormous turtle out of found metal objects. The list of eco-artists is ever-growing, and regardless of which artist was Elisa talking about, she said each does a great job giving breath to the planet while making beautiful pieces with a lot of creativity.

I did ask Elisa both what she thinks the world is doing well and what we could stand to improve on. She has a very positive outlook for the future and some of the initiatives going on right now but doesn’t want to ignore that there are some environmental issues that urgently need to be addressed. Somewhere along the way, she explained, that the world has gained such an increased number of consumers, so much so that our culture of buying things is the norm.

Changing how you shop is one way to lessen this problem. Elisa said shopping at thrift stores is a great way of recycling, for example. At thrift stores or flea markets, you can buy used furniture rather than purchasing brand new furniture. She says we are losing a lot of our trees and other resources due to the constant need for the next new thing - rivers and lakes are being contaminated, and pollution is a real concern. But change starts at a very micro level, and individuals can start to do their part by being more conscious about what they are using and re-using.

So far, in seeking out eco-artists, I have spoken to people in the Netherlands, Guatemala and the U.S., and what I can sense from each of them is they are truly practicing what they preach. I have no doubt that Elisa is really living the things she is talking about and has a very profound and important voice on environmental topics.

I am fortunate to have had the chance to speak with her, and I would encourage any other eco-artists to get in touch with us to share your art and thoughts on the environment and sustainability. I certainly have learned from these artists, and I’m hopeful that other people have, too.

If you have any feedback or know of anyone else that should be featured on this blog, find me on twitter @_ryanoconnor.

About the author

Ryan O'Connor is an IT Security Professional. He recently obtained his Master's Degree in Business Analytics from the University of Connecticut. He also has a knack for whimsy and is a self-proclaimed adventure aficionado
Learn more about Ryan O'Connor

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