He’s not your average artist; in fact, he works with trash found littered along highways and on beaches across the country. Barry Rosenthal is a New York photographer who stumbled onto using trash as an artistic medium after years of shooting plants in nature and realizing there was so much garbage littering these areas.
His interest in trash as a way to make art was sparked in 2010 while doing some plant-finding and photography work in Long Island. His trash collection has grown ever since.
He recently told Slate.com, “I couldn't find any plants I wanted to shoot, but I started finding all this colorful stuff washed up on the beach. I found tons of stuff and started collecting it and spontaneously doing this as a side-project.”
Rosenthal’s Found in Nature pieces are minimalist with a focus on color, contrast and shapes. What may seem like a pile of junk plopped down on a black background to some people actually takes the artist quite a bit of time to create. He must find, arrange and photograph each collage with a high level of precision.
He uses a specially mounted camera and lighting set at the perfect angle to get the shot he’s looking for.
Even if art isn’t your thing, you can still appreciate the basic purpose behind Found in Nature which is to raise awareness at the fact too much trash is ending up where it shouldn’t (i.e., waterways, highways, beaches, etc.).
Rosenthal has scoured the beaches from his hometown in Massachusetts, to New York City, and all the way down to the sandy beaches of Florida looking for junk to add to his collection. Not surprisingly, there’s no shortage of litter available. He currently operates out of a large New York-based studio where he stores his “art supplies.”
Here’s a quick look at some of Rosenthal’s Found in Nature collection.