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Chicago Artist Spends Two Years Collecting Almost 9,000 Drug Bags to Highlight City’s Drug Problem

32-year-old Ben Kurstin, of Humboldt Park, Chicago, has 8,816 dime bags in his apartment, but he’s no drug dealer. The aspiring artist and filmmaker has been collecting drug bags in virtually every color and design imaginable off the streets of Chicago and using them as an art medium.

It all started one day, a couple of years ago, when Ben Kurstin noticed a discarded dime bag on a sidewalk in Humboldt Park, and decided to pick it up out of curiosity. From that point on, whenever he saw drug bags on the street, he would pick them up and take them home. Soon, his unusual habit became an obsession, to the point where he would search for the bags and come home with dozens , sometimes even hundreds of them, every day. He then spent hours cleaning and organizing them by color and design. At one point, he even started thinking of a rational explanation, should police one day stop him, thinking he was a drug dealer.

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North Korea’s Amazingly Choreographed Human Mosaics

Take tens of thousands of children, place them in the largest stadium in the world, arm them with giant colored flip-books containing hundreds of colored panels, train them to move in perfect unison and you get the awe-inspiring human mosaics of the Arirang Mass Games, in North Korea.

The Arirang Festival Mass Games held in Pyongyang, are the largest and most impressive exercise of state propaganda in the world. The event runs from August to October, and offers an incredible spectacle of perfectly choreographed gymnastics, dancing, singing, and of course, praising the achievements of the communist nations’s eternal leader Kim Il-Sung.  The games aren’t held every year. They are suspended in case of national emergencies, like when flooding ravages the country and the Government decides the hundreds of thousands of performers are better put to use repairing the destroyed infrastructure. But when the trained human pixels get the chance to perform on Rungrado May Day Stadium, in front of a crowd of 150,000 people, they make the performers of the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening ceremony look like a group of children staging a simple school play. Every 20 seconds for a period of two hours they switch the panels of their flip-books to create stunning mosaics honoring Korea’s cultural heritage and its political regime.

Arirang-Mass-Games

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Ukrainian Artist Creates Incredibly Detailed Artworks from Sand and Seashells

Svetlana Ivanchenko is a talented Ukrainian artist who uses overlooked natural materials like sand, seashells, quartz, tree roots and tree bark to create wonderful mosaics that look almost painted by hand.

Born and raised in Yalta, on the shores of the Black Sea, Ivanchenko was always fascinated by the abundance of natural materials that surrounded her. She studied at the Crimean Art School, under the supervision of renowned artist Sergei Bokaeva, and later graduated from the Glukhivskiy Pedagogical Institute. The artist currently based in the city of Dnepropetrovsk uses a variety of sand, shells, quartz and tree parts to create amazing works of art inspired by her place of birth and the warmth of the female body. It’s hard to believe, but every little piece of material used to create the artworks is placed by hand, and no coloring other than that of the composing elements is used. As Pinar from My Modern Metropolis notes, Svetlana “merges the various textures and colors brilliantly, making it difficult to imagine the frames being made of anything else.” Her natural masterpieces have been exhibited in international galleries, and many of them reside in the private collections of connaisseurs in Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Estonia and the Dominican Republic.

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Beautiful “Paintings” Hide a Mind-Blowing Secret

You’ve probably seen hundreds of nature-inspired paintings like the ones created by Russian artist Alexander Yurkov. But, although you can’t tell at first glance, his works are truly unique. In fact, they’re not even real paintings…

It’s a real shame awe-inspiring artworks like the ones created by Alexander Yurkov remain unknown to most of the western world, while other less impressive works get loads of attention on art and design sites and in famous galleries. This Russian master spent decades perfecting a technique he developed himself that involves creating painting-like mosaics exclusively out of dried leaves, grass and flowers. That’s right, there isn’t a single stroke of paint or pencil in the masterpieces below, only cleverly selected and positioned tree leaves, pieces of dried grass and withered flowers. How he manages to get the color tones and shades so perfect that it makes people stick their nose to the artworks trying to spot the actual leaves and making sure there’s no oil paint involved, is beyond me, but it’s this mystery that makes Yurkov’s art so intriguing.

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Artist Creates Beautiful Mosaics from Discarded New York Metro Cards

German artist Nina Boesch uses discarded New York Metro Cards to create beautiful mosaics inspired by the Big Apple. The resourceful collage master reckons she has used about 30,000 metro cards, so far.

To most New-Yorkers, the iconic metro card becomes just a useless piece of plastic after they’ve gotten on the subway, but for Nina Boesch it becomes an invaluable piece of art precisely after it’s been thrown away. The 33-year old artist gathers material for her amazing mosaics scouring the metro stations of New York City. “I can’t leave a subway station without looking around, it’s almost OCD at this point,” she says. “Sometimes you’re lucky and you find a whole stack of them.” She has become famous for using hundreds of these yellow, black and blue pieces of plastic to create intricate collages, each with its own New York-inspired theme. So far she has assembled portraits of famous New-Yorkers like Woody Allen and Catherine Hepburn, as well as renditions of the Statue of Liberty, yellow cabs or the New York Subway.

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Jim Power – The Mosaic Man of New York City

For the past 26 years, Jim Power, known by most as The Mosaic Man, has been decorating the light posts of New York’s East Village with intricate tile and mirror mosaics. And the homeless 64-year-old is still at it.

“When I got into this, I was immortal all a sudden,” Power says about how he felt when he first started creating his art, in the late 1980s. The Vietnam veteran set out to make East Village a known arts destination by creating a trail of 80 mosaic-decorated light posts, each with its own theme and design inspired by local history and culture. At the height of his career as a street artist, The Mosaic Man was up to 70 light posts, but in the later part of the 80s and into the 90s, mayor Rudy Giulianni started a clean-up-the-city anti-graffiti campaign and took down 50 of his beautifully-adorned artworks. It was pretty hard to bear, but Jim never gave up on his dream of completing the trail, and managed to rebuild every one of them.

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Hundreds of Paintings Come Together to Form Stunning Mural Mosaics

Invented by Lewis Lavoie, Mural Mosaic is an artistic concept which brings together hundreds of artworks painted by various artists into one exceptional image.

Lewis Lavoie created his first mural mosaic in 1997, for a retaining wall next to an art gallery in St. Albert, Alberta, Canada. For this, the artist painted hundreds of individual paintings that were ultimately assembled to make up the face of Michelangelo’s David. It was a monumental achievement that helped Lavoie gain international attention for his unique style. But that was only the beginning of the mural mosaic movement, as seven years later Lewis takes his ingenious concept to the next level, by inviting 70 different artists to create the first community mural mosaic. During a live 24-hour painting marathon, each artist makes his contribution to the “Heritage Fiddler” mosaic.

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Alumosaics – Beautiful Works of Art Made from Recycled Aluminum Cans

Jeff Ivanhoe has been using aluminum cans to create his incredible artworks since 1981. They’re called ‘alumosaics‘, and as you’ve probably already guessed, they are colorful mosaics made of aluminum.

Aluminum has been around for over 100 years years, and during that time it has proven to be one of the world’s most versatile and easily recyclable materials. We use it to make light construction and car parts, as electronics casings, and even to make unique Christmas trees. But Jeff Ivanhoe has found yet another use for aluminum. He uses recycled soda and beer cans to create his famous alumosaics, a delightful art form he and his wife Barbara invented by pure chance.

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Fascinating Portraits Made Out of Thousands of Tiny Photographs

Inspired by the fact that every person has multiple facets that combined form his or her personality, Swiss artist Anna Halm Schudel creates original portraits by piecing together thousands of small photographs.

The mosaic portraits of Anna Halm Schudel assemble in a similar way to puzzles. After choosing the subject of her artwork, the artist goes online and looks for photos of the past or present celebrity and starts reworking the digital images in a very complex process. She usually works with just a section of each image, making sure the formats and tones match the general line of the portrait she envisioned. Each of the small photos used as mosaic pieces measures just one square centimeter and only become visible when the viewer approaches to take a closer look at the work of art. At first glance, people see another portrait of Barack Obama, Scarlet Johannsson or Marilyn Monroe, but soon, the big surprise behind the giant pixilation is revealed.

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Joe Black’s Amazing Badge Mosaics

We’ve featured some pretty awesome mosaics here on Oddity Central, from Oksana Mas’ wooden egg mosaics, to the sweet jelly bean mosaics of Peter and Roger Rocha. But there are plenty of other incredibly talented artists out there who use the most unusual materials to create their art. Joe Black is one of them.

Using thousands of handmade badges depicting various images and icons, from the Vietnam War to Elvis Presley, Black manages to piece together amazingly detailed portraits. And if having the patience to create such wonderful mosaics wan’t impressive enough, nearly every one of the badges used is made by Joe Black himself, and relates to the artwork in some way. For example, the portrait of Superman is made up of corporate and fast food logos to depict the notion of goodness defeated by our ever-growing need to consume. A mixed media artist by definition, Black also makes use of oil paints, acrylics and other mediums to complete his modern masterpieces.

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Artist Creates Mind-Blowing Mosaics from Thousands of Naked Bodies

New York-based artist Angelo Musco is taking the photography world by storm with his incredible mosaics made up of thousands of naked bodies.

Touching themes like birth, procreation and gestation, Angelo Musco creates complex structures of the natural world from an ant colony and beehive to a school of fish, using thousands of human bodies. “A swarm of fish captures a profusion of life, the safety of a symbolic nest, and a connection of one being to another. ‘It’s the strength derived from this collective force,” the artist says on his website. “The nests, as well, relate to the safe geography of birth and early life.” But Angelo Musco also draws inspiration for his unique mosaics from his traumatic early life experience.

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Duzzle Art – Doug Powell’s Puzzle Piece Mosaics

Mosaic artist Doug Powell uses thousands of puzzle pieces to assemble mosaic portraits that capture facial features right down to the finest features.

We’ve featured some of Doug’s work on OC a while ago, when he created a space shuttle mosaic exclusively out of keyboard keys. But he is actually most famous for his unique skill of putting puzzle pieces together as detailed mosaics, which he calls Duzzle Art. If you’re wondering what that means, he just replaced the “P” in puzzle with a “D” from Douglas to personalize his art.

Doug Powell started experimenting with random jigsaw puzzle pieces in 2001, but it wasn’t until 2007 that he began assembling them into portraits. Throughout the years he has developed and refined his technique to the point where he can now reproduce detailed features like lips or eyelashes. The artist never paints any of the puzzle pieces he uses in his mosaics, he only cuts and shapes some of the pieces to make his works even more realistic. Each of the Duzzle Art masterpieces numbers thousands of individual puzzle pieces, and Doug claims he has an inventory of over one million pieces, enough to fill an average size above-ground pool.

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Artist Creates Space Shuttle Mosaic Exclusively Out of Keyboard Keys

I’ve posted my share of impressive mosaics, throughout the years, but the keyboard key space shuttle created by Doug Powell has to be one of the coolest ever.

Known for his incredibly detailed puzzle-piece mosaics, Powell has now turned to a more modern medium – keyboard keys. For his latest project, a beautiful mosaic of a space shuttle, he spent 190 hours placing 5,951 keyboard pieces in just the right place to create a detailed image. Within the artwork created for Ripley’s Believe It or Not, the artist also included 14 hidden words for the viewers to discover. Head over to Ripley’s blog and see if you can find all 14.

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Oksana Mas’ Breathtaking Wooden Egg Mosaics for the Venice Biennale

Oksana Mas is a brilliant Ukrainian artist who uses thousands of hand-painted wooden eggs to create incredible mosaics that simply take your breath away.

The first time I read about Oksana Mas was in January of 2010, when she created this unique portrait of the Virgin Mary using 15,000 wooden eggs. It took her nine months to complete her masterpiece and you can admire it first hand inside the Saint Sophia Cathedral, in Kyiv. Apparently, the talented Ukrainian artist has been keeping herself busy since then, creating several other wooden Easter egg mosaics for the Venice Biennale, where she’s representing her country.

Her monumental installation is called ‘Post-vs-Proto-Renaissance’, features 12 separate pieces, measures a total of 92 by 134 meters and numbers an astonishing 3,640,000 wooden eggs hand-painted by people in 42 different countries. From inmates to intellectuals, thousands of people from all walks of life painted the eggs which were later assembled by Oksana, in her studio. The gigantic egg mosaics are currently on display inside the Church of San Fantin, in Venice, where they interact perfectly with the sacredness of the surroundings. When seen from up-close, every painted egg has its own unique design, but as the viewer backs away, they all come together to form a large scale representation of the Ghent Altarpiece, painted by the Van Eyck brothers.

Oksana Mas’ art was inspired by the old Ukrainian folk custom krashenki: wooden eggs covered in traditional Ukrainian designs used to celebrate Easter.

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Toast Mona Lisa Mosaic Is a Labour of Loaf

English toast artist Laura Hadland used 10,080 pieces of toasted and regular bread to create an impressive mosaic of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

Remember that awesome giant toast portrait we featured a few months ago? Well, that was also Laura’s doing, and now she’s back with even more toast goodness. This time she traveled to Matera, Italy’s “City of Bread”, to create an edible replica of the famous Mona Lisa. It took a big effort on Laura’s part, because the slices of bread were larger than the 10 x 10 squares she had already printed as a blueprint, so every piece of bread had to be trimmed to size. Which wasn’t easy, since the more toasted the bread is, the more likely it is to shatter when trimmed. But her experience with toast mosaics paid off and she managed to create a delicious looking Gioconda.

The mosaic measured 9 meters by 11.2 meters and numbered 10,080 slices of bread, a combination of plain white bread, toast, and slices covered with dark and milk chocolate. It was made entirely from edible materials, in deference to the hunger caused by natural disasters in Japan. The toast Mona Lisa was made for a Japanese television show featuring the actresses who form MoriSanchu, whatever that is.

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