SOUTHINGTON — Proving art can be created out of anything, one local artist has began making and selling works created from trash.
Stephanie Hongo, a studio manager at Art Studio of Connecticut on West Street, began making “trash art” after quitting her full time job at Trader Joe’s.
“I started to get very unhappy with my work and I was having a very hard time finding additional work as an artist,” Hongo said. “So I ended up quitting that job without something lined up and my intention was to make it as a freelance artist but since I quit my job, I didn’t have any money for supplies.”
After admiring the trash art of artist Bordalo II of Europe, Hongo started to think she could make similar projects.
“I started just making small-scale animals similar to what he does because trash is free and it’s the kind of thing that you can find wherever,” Hongo said. “... I am pulling something that could potentially end up in a landfill and using it to make art, which is fabulous. I started doing that for quite some time and after only a couple of them, it started to take off, which has been great.”
Hongo loves to make animals out of trash, but sometimes customers ask for other objects. Andrew Carson, who commissioned a Buddha, loves the idea of trash art and views his Buddha as his “most valued possession.”
“I think art is really appropriate for our current world of making beautiful things that were formally garbage,” Carson said. “The fact that she is able to get her style into each piece no matter what she is making. There’s a little bit of darkness in all of the pieces. She’s got these little hidden plastic spiders in a lot of her work. It’s the way she’s able to get her individual flair into all of the pieces, no matter what they are.”
Dawn Toce, studio owner, said the most amazing part of Hongo’s work is her vision.
“She’s able to literally take a bag of recyclable trash and create a masterpiece,” Toce said. “It’s not so much the recycling or the reusing portion, but it’s her ability to sculpt. She creates these critters out of trash and they’re just amazing. I’ve personally bought one from her, a seahorse.”
Currently, Hongo’s sales are doing very well. Art to purchase can be found on her Instagram page or her personal website, sugarfox.net.
“The thing about art is that you can’t really base a successful couple of weeks on anything,” Hongo said. “It comes and it goes and you can’t always expect that it’s going to be there. Right now, things are very good.”