Those who visited the Lincoln Villa at this year’s TED Active were given a so-called “gift bag.” The actual gift is unimportant, and perhaps even forgettable now. Artist Aurora Robson knew about these goodie bags and asked the attendees to remove their gifts from their packaging and give the trash to her. The piles of torn sheets of plastic and ripped cardstock would soon turn to a medium for Robson to create a sculpture that was anything but forgettable.
Robson’s sculptures are just one part of her work as a multimedia artist whose goal is to change the world. She describes herself as a “subtle yet determined environmental activist” with the dream of changing artists’ roles to be creators of work that has more purpose. She has exhibited her work internationally at museums, galleries and public spaces. Her goal is not just to recycle, but to inspire other artists to do what she does with her junk mail and empty bottles: create a fascinating piece of art.
As a child, Robson suffered from debilitating nightmares. When she closed her eyes at night, she was shrunk down in size and transported to another planet. In her dreams she saw her tiny self jumping over sharp objects among monstrous terrifying beings. She was always safe, but the danger was growing every second. The worlds of her childhood nightmares now serve as the inspiration for her work.
Her sculptures are beautiful and serene but haunting; the perfect incisions of a plastic bottle and sharp claw of an aluminum can evoke a monstrous feeling to her work. The sculptures are not only representative of taking something harmful and turning it into beauty, but they are a haunting warning of what beauty can be lost if we don’t conserve, soon.
Lincoln has chosen Robson as an honoree of the Lincoln Reimagine™ Project. In collaboration with TED and Lincoln, Robson will continue to develop her own Project Vortex. Robson and her Project Vortex partners will match other artists with nonprofit conservation initiatives in order to supply them with non-recyclable materials so that they can create sculptures and works of art. Their works will then be sold with the profits feeding back into the conservation initiatives. It’s a completely new way to recycle – not just reuse, but reimagine.