I recently read about El Anatsui, an artist from Nigeria. El Anatsui takes discarded tops of evaporated milk tins, rusty metal graters and old printing plates, liquor bottle caps, all gathered in and around Nsukka, Nigeria, where the artist has worked for the last 28 years. He works his magic and weaves old bottle caps, stitched together with copper wire, into tapestries with stunning visual appeal.
The tapestries introduce ideas about the function of objects (their destruction, transformation, and regeneration) in everyday life, and the role of language in deciphering visual symbols. The shimmering glamour of El Anatsui’s is much of the reason for his acclaim, but he prefers of focus on the origin of his work. “Life is not glamorous, and I want my work to reflect that,” he says. “These materials are lowly bottle caps.”