Chicago-based artist Mary Ellen Croteau has created an astounding self-portrait using thousands of recycled plastic bottle caps.
Mary Ellen Croteau considers herself a political artist who uses her works to make statements and get people to look at things from a different perspective. This time she wanted viewers to acknowledge the presence of bottle caps in our everyday lives and realize how rarely they are recycled. Croteau was stacking plastic bottle caps and plastic pill bottles trying to create precarious towering columns inspired by the modernist works of Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi, when she noticed smaller caps fit inside the larger ones and created a whole new color combination. This got her thinking about Chuck Close’s art and the way he creates realistic portraits using just shapes of color.
After making this little discovery, Mary Ellen Croteau changed her project completed and decided to create a plastic bottle cap self-portrait, instead. She used no paint except for the shadow areas where the white board showed through, and only trimmed a few caps so they would fit in tight spaces. She achieved all the different color tones simply by combining different color bottle caps. Her 8-foot by 7-foot masterpiece is truly a remarkable example of eco art and is sure to get people thinking about recycling plastic bottle caps.