Meet Paul Villinski, a New York City artist with a lifelong concern for environmental issues whose work “frequently repurposes discarded materials, effecting surprising and poetic transformations.”
What first grabbed my heartstrings were his sculptures fabricated from two musical instruments. Their intrinsically beautiful shapes were taken to new heights by butterflies snipped from crushed beer cans from the streets of New York. Villiniski muses that “every one of them was once raised to someone’s lips.” It is a wonderful exercise to wonder who all these diverse people were who drank from these cans that were ultimately united in this transcendent art.
“The butterflies operate symbolically, : metamorphosing littered beer cans into flocks of butterflies mirrors the act of transformation and rebirth that butterflies symbolize across all cultures” (the artist) The second pieces that caught my eye were also related to music….this time old vinyl records that were transfigured into birds and butterflies…not only stunning imagery but reminding us of how music has the power to make us soar.
“Butterflies seem impossible. How can these ridiculously delicate creatures, apparently blown about by the merest breath of wind, actually fly many thousands of miles to migrate? How is it that an innate, intergenerational GPS guides them year after year to the same tree? Are we more like them than we suspect, or could we be?” (the artist)
I love the shadows that these images form as much as I love the actual art. My next favorite pieces were the ones created from found gloves because they reminded me of our Luna tribe….each unique from many walks of life, yet still connected.
In the poetic and hopeful words of the artist ” Lost gloves? The city is full of them. Having read this, you will see them everywhere. Do they stand in for the people who wore them? Instantly you wonder: whose was this – their sex and age and body type – their laugh? What work was done? You begin to construct entire identities, for the gloves are replete with memory, with personal history. They are almost the hands themselves, in ways even more telling.
Gloves from all ages, classes, occupations, races. Gloves from all walks. Here everyone wears gloves and loses them. Collected over the years and into artworks they make an informal census, a demographic of detritus.
They have qualities we fear coming to know: carelessly left behind, forgotten or discarded, weathered, damaged, exhausted and worn through, run over by life, homeless. Lost and found. So I bring them into the studio and into pieces and give them homes, with the others.
Some of the pieces are constructed from found work gloves only. These have a patina of the work performed while worn. They are freighted with untold hours of labor. To this I add my own labor.
The gloves are collected from the streets daily. The pieces are obsessively handmade. Entwined. Handstitched. They are about handwork and restoration and connectedness. Once they lie melancholic, now they are hopeful.”