Elegant? Whimsical? Thought provoking?—Art made from toilet paper?
One way to cultivate creativity is to make art from the mundane. This month’s medium is toilet paper. Last month’s hair-based art tapped into rich historical and social symbolism. This month’s art taps into social issues as well, while also leveraging toilet paper’s inherent characteristics. While supremely mundane, you will find this art elegant, whimsical, and thought provoking.
- Sakir Gökcebag draws out the intrinsic qualities of toilet paper in his minimalistic installations Trans-Layers I and Trans-Layers II (note multiple images per link).
- Jessica Drenk transforms rolls of toilet paper into nature-inspired sculptures in her Soft Cell Tissue
- Theresa Bruno explores class consciousness, luxury, globalization, and consumption in her conceptual installation Social Climber.
- Nina Katchadourian’s toilet-paper-based 15th-century Flemish portraiture Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style shows creativity on a plane.
- Leon Reid IV takes the common text-on-toilet-paper motif to another messaging and marketing level with his College Degree Toilet Paper.
- Liza Morado’s toilet paper dresses were originally made as a spoof on an Academy Award dress competition
- David Bernstein’s uses toilet paper in his performance Shit Job
- Wang Lei’s beautiful and elegant braided toilet paper clothing installation Shou Zhi Shou Zhi
- While not technically toilet paper, Ana Bidart uses rolls of paper in such an imaginative way she earned her way onto this list.
- A pinterest page dedicated to toilet paper origami. Hey, art happens.
Biological imagery, specifically that of magnified tissue cells, inspired the Soft Cell Tissue series. Rolls of toilet paper are squeezed together, their edges shaping and impacting one another, much like that of living cells. The rolls of toilet tissue were identical, but after being lightly burnt and pressed together, the final, wax-hardened pieces exhibit a multitude of shapes. While the cardboard centers have been removed from many of the rolls, those remaining function as the nuclei to the cell in these works that bridge the man-made world and the microscopic world of our own cellular biology.
— Jessica Drenk, from her website, May 2015
For more of Sakir Gökcebag’s art visit his website
Share your links to other toilet paper art and I will add them to the list. Or, add to the discussion by sharing images of your students’ toilet paper explorations.
NOTE: As the teacher, you will need to consider the benefits of when you share works by established artists. When shown early in the process they can get the creative juices flowing, but they can also lead to self-censoring. Remember, the goal is not to create portfolio-worthy pieces, though that may happen. The goal is to practice thinking expansively and to become more artistically fluent, agile, and responsive.
Please share if you know others who create art made from toilet paper.