Looks like today is turning out to be one of those amazing-art-made-from unusual-repurpose-materials-kind-of-days. Earlier, I shared the work of New Jersey-based Matthew Albanese. For his “Strange Worlds” series of photographs, Albanese repurposes household materials like tile grout, fireplace ash, and the contents of a spice cabinet and uses them to construct intricate mock landscape scenes. The materials that Albanese works with aren't exactly trash, per say, but the materials that Puerto Rican artist Jesus Bubu Negron employs are truly trash of the highest order: cigarette butts.
Negron’s art installation, a stunning woven rug made completely from unrolled cigarette butt papers, first appeared in the United Arab Emirates, not in his native Puerto Rico. It appears that the cigarettes were sourced in the UAE, not Negron's native country.
The art project was presented at the Sharjah Biennale documenting the street cleaners at work and helpers fabricating the carpet. The carpet itself uses the paper of the cigarettes unrolled and layered on top of each other. the design utilizes the yellow and white pieces from the paper to create a pattern similar to a woven textile rug.
Cigarettes butts have proven to be somewhat of the final frontier when it comes to creative upcycling. Sure, there are examples of upcycled butt "art" produced by Negro and Tom Deigninger (his "Filter Bunny" has to be seen to be believed) but they're rarely resurrected in useful consumer products. Just last month, TerraCycle honcho Tom Szaky pondered if his own company should partner with a major tobacco company and make that leap without wading into ethically murky waters. What do you think? Is repurposing cigarette butts for consumer products questionable as it draws attention to tobacco use or is it a viable option that will remove millions of toxic stubs from the environment? (our own Shea Gunther enthusiastically falls into the latter camp). I'm curious as to what TerraCycle — who have not debuted a cigarette butt bath mat at the TerraCycle Green Up Pop Up Shop — ultimately decides.