We all go through life-changing experiences in which the outcomes have a lasting impact on our personal lives and the surrounding community. Charlotte’s premier contemporary, conceptual artist, Edwin Gil, is no exception. His life story – full of hardship, difficult decisions and triumph – has led him down different paths to a new direction.
Since arriving in Charlotte 12 years ago, he has established himself as a talented artist and avid social activist. Gil’s most recent social art project, New Horizons, which will be unveiled in August, reflects his desire to make a difference in saving our planet. Just as art saved his life (a self-proclamation by Edwin), he plans to create a larger than life art piece by using recycled glass. By using discarded or old materials, such as glass, to create something new and extraordinary, Edwin is employing the technique of upcycling.
The formal definition of upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials of better quality or a higher environmental value. And believe me, Edwin has done just that with his use of pieces of glass, which he cuts and paints himself.
Edwin was inspired by a seemingly mundane occurrence: he was looking for a door for his dining room and realized that other ordinary objects could serve an artistic purpose. His mentor and owner of Coffey & Thompson Fine Art in uptown (Edwin’s sister gallery), Paul Thompson, fueled his curiosity by inviting him to view more old doors in a barn behind his house. While there, Edwin discovered a pile of glass. Paul explained that the glass was removed from his old gallery windows when the Bank of America building was built on the gallery’s former location.
So, the seed was planted and Edwin began thinking of how he might incorporate the old pieces of glass into his art. What’s more, the glass had an historical context and was taken from a former gallery. Edwin says the glass was screaming to be used as a piece of art! After careful consideration Edwin realized he could upcycle the glass to create the pieces of artwork that accompany this story.
The process of recycling glass intrigued Edwin and he started to investigate on what this process entailed. In Charlotte, for example, all discarded glass comes into a materials recovery facility (MRF) where it is crushed into a mixed color product. The main advantage to using recycled glass is that it never loses its quality and can be recycled continuously. Edwin is trying to figure out how the crushed glass might be used in his art, so don’t be surprised if you see something on this front very soon.
Edwin goes on to say that using recycled materials to create new art is a New Horizon for him and thus, his new series of upcycled glass art bears the same name. He is very excited to contribute to the care and protection of our planet.