Environmental art can take many forms. One of the most striking is when an artist takes a mass-produced material that is usually discarded after one use and makes it into something enduring and entirely new. That’s exactly what Ohio artist Mark Langan does with cardboard: he transforms this interesting but often-overlooked material into works of art so unique and impressive that it’s hard to believe their origins.
Langan’s goal is to encourage people to look at materials in a new way. He believes that corrugated cardboard has interesting characteristics which are usually ignored; by bringing those characteristics to the forefront, he’s encouraging us all to rethink our perceptions of what’s useful and what’s not. While most of us would recycle (or simply throw away) old cardboard boxes, this art shows us what could be done with them instead.
Using nothing more than corrugated cardboard, a hobby knife and non-toxic glue, Langan creates three-dimensional pictures that are detailed and full of life. His work ranges from corporate logo pieces to recreations of famous works of art. Each piece can take up to 100 hours to complete, and when finished they are truly striking.
Langan’s work has been featured at environment-themed events and in the boardrooms of major companies. He makes no claims to being the most environmentally-friendly artist out there; in fact, he denies having much impact on the waste stream at all. But he says, simply, that his art is “something rather than nothing.” Which is to say that he’s made something beautiful where before there was only a plain brown box.
The artist hopes that his art will inspire others to ask what they can do to help the recycling movement. This impressive corrugated art isn’t going to save the world, of course. But if it helps a few people to see that they can help make a dent in the waste stream with simple actions, then Langan’s goal will be fulfilled.