Diego Velasquez designed a mural using flattened aluminum cans, soda boxes, pop-tops, and other recyclables to encourage recycling.
He donated the mural for display at the Pine Bluffs Landfill in Waste Management’s new office.
Velasquez used a design of a tree on a hill, with half the mural in the dark and half in the light.
“The background is split down the middle, representing evil on one side, polluting and not recycling. The light side represents taking care of the environment,” Velasquez said.
The mural weighs 75 pounds, and is a combination of cans from around the world, said Mary Akers, director of the Cherokee Arts Center and Velasquez’s project facilitator.
“He was interested in saving the environment and he wanted to see if he could up with a way to use art to accomplish his goal,” Akers said. “He presented the idea to me that he would do art out of aluminum cans. I told him to come up with way to cut the cans. I advised him on color, the composition and that he needed to find a public venue for the art.”
Velasquez chose the community room at Waste Management for his masterpiece. The landfill is often the site of school-related tours and community events, making it a great place to get his message across.
“He was a smart focused young man,” Akers said. “When he came to me, he knew what he wanted. And I told him to go for it.”
Velasquez came up with the idea after visiting the World of Coke and seeing how many recyclable bottles and cans they use.
“My teacher and I set up boxes at my class at Sequoyah to collect soda cans,” he said.
He felt the tree reflected the continued growth of nature.
“The tree is not leaning one way or the other,” he said.