Recycled & Refashioned: The Art of Ruby Silvious
ALBANY — Recycled & Refashioned: The Art of Ruby Silvious
JANUARY 25 – JUNE 7, 2020
Artist Ruby Silvious begins her creative process with a cup of tea. For the
past five years, Silvious has been painting and drawing on tea bags that
have been steeped in hot water, emptied, and dried. The stained paper
(and occasionally cloth) of the tea bags offers a distinctive canvas for her
miniature paintings, which present a visual journal of her life and travels—a
watercolor of breakfast or flowers encountered on a walk, a street scene of
a French town, or a museum gallery and its art-loving crowds.
Her adventure with tea began as a test of self-discipline in January 2015.
As Silvious explains, “My goal was to see if I had the discipline to create
something every day for an entire year using tea as my subject.” For the
first week, she took photographs of her tea consumption, but after a few
days she began to experiment with the used tea bags themselves and soon
learned that the tea-stained material offered a beautiful canvas for her
illustrated journal. The year-long study in self-discipline led to her first series
of paintings and her book, 363 Days of Tea: A Visual Journal on Used Tea
Bags. Silvious was hooked and her work on recycled tea bags continued with
subsequent series: 52 Weeks of Tea, 26 Days of Tea in Japan, 9 Days of Tea in Spain, and more.
Even before her experiment with tea bags, Silvious had been using recycled products in her art. She is particularly fond
of pistachio shells and eggshells, which offer fragile surfaces for her imaginative and whimsical designs.
In 2019, Silvious took a step in another direction, making shoes from colorful scraps of salvaged paper. Her gorgeous
footwear are enough to satisfy any shoe aficionado and even caught the attention of Vogue Italia, which featured
her Gogo Dots Pumps (see below) made from scraps of handmade and banana leaf papers. As if paper shoes weren’t
enough, Silvious has also created kimonos and stylish dresses from printed tea bags, and, to go underneath, origami
paper brassieres (her Oribrami series) constructed from recycled restaurant food wrappers and other rescued paper.
Fashion has informed much of Silvious’s work and will be featured alongside tea bags, egg shells, and other reclaimed
items in the exhibition Recycled and Refashioned: The Art of Ruby Silvious that runs January 25 through June 7, 2020.