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One man's trash is another man's priceless artwork

A Brazilian artist turned New York City trash into glamorous pieces of art.
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    Couch before|Vinicius Ribiero

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    Couch after|Vinicius Ribiero

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    A work in progress picture of Ribiero's most famous piece: the Union Jack chair

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    A portrait made of 5,000 pushpins and counting.|Vinicius Ribiero

For once, it's good to be trashy.

Vinicius Ribiero, 38, moved from Brazil to pursue his passion: taking trash and turning it into art.

Ribiero navigated the NYC streets to find discarded pieces of furniture. He then would take the chair, table, mirror and other knick-knacks and paint, sculpt, and transform the piece until it was almost unrecognizable.

Luckily for the artist, New York always has plenty of options.

New York State produced 4.5 pounds of waste per person per day, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Multiply that by the just over 8.4 million people living in New York City and that’s 37,000 tons of garbage each day.

“I use the garbage because where I come from in Brazil we don’t recycle, unfortunately,” said Ribiero. “People don’t care about anything that doesn’t have a fresh look. It’s so stupid.”

“The trash is pretty much like a relationship. Sometimes it’s in good shape, but not for you, so you toss it out, but it may be good for someone else so they take it.”

Ribiero’s pieces range from an 8-foot tall, 4-foot wide portrait of a man made entirely out of over 5,000 pushpins to a refurbished chair with the Union Jack flag painted on it valued at over $5,000.

Between shifts working for a private catering company, Ribiero’s art can take months to create. The Union Jack chair alone had been in production for 3 months and has yet to be completed.

“I make [my art] better and better,” said Ribiero. “I’m all about perfection.”

Which is why Ribiero isn’t looking to sell his furniture pieces – not yet anyway. His dream is to open an art gallery exhibit to show the world how recycling has inspired him.

“People shouldn’t be afraid of getting things from the street. You have to be smart about where you collect them from but you can clean them and make them good,” said Ribiero.

“I transform trash into something fabulous.”

 

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