Unveiling Significance of Items Castaway in Sea and Street
Daniel Lanzilotta’s art is a celebration of items cast away in the environment. Faithfully foraging materials from the crevices of the earth, the selfentitled ‘plastician’ modifies and Unveiling Significance of Items Castaway in Sea and Street
Daniel Lanzilotta’s art is a celebration of items cast away in the environment. Faithfully foraging materials from the crevices of the earth, the selfentitled ‘plastician’ modifies and welds his findings, spotlighting potential of plastic waste and fragments of litter.
“In the American culture, we’ve lost track of what something [really] is.” So says Italian American artist Daniel Lanzilotta, who has been materializing his artistic vision by collecting debris, rubbish, and plastic waste for the past twenty-two years.
One thing he doesn’t lack is mindfulness, which led him to honor both his artistic whims and deepest convictions beginning in his early twenties. His simplistic philosophy was born on a trip to the beach with his young son, where he was jolted by the prevalence of shoreline garbage. This was when he came to see the potential in these castaway items, and when he decided to use them in order to bring “greater significance to the seemingly insignificant.”
Marinelike installations adorn the walls of his atelier in Biarritz, France and Bridgeport, Connecticut where he showcases the “greater significance” of debris. After the tragic death of a dear twelve-year old friend in 2011, he created a show entitled “Tfrequencies,” in homage to the little girl who was an awardwinning artist, environmentalist, and inventor. A mere five years later he tirelessly honors her memory in giving “life to the lifeless,” a quality he says his late friend taught him. Rather than viewing the archetypes of life and death as opposites, he held them together as a single thought. When one breath runs out, another begins. This is his pattern.
A traditional upbringing brought about a propensity for cooking quickly after he learned to walk. His skills were honed at home, but in his teenage years he became involved with a bunch of “losers in the Bronx,” he chuckles, rolling his eyes. It wasn’t long until he realized that he was better suited elsewhere, and felt the need to chew on life’s undiscovered morsels beyond the gritty city.
Soon thereafter, he wound up at Carnegie Mellon on a full scholarship studying technical theater. He also has a culinary arts degree. At his audition in San Francisco he showcased his handmade miniature stage, complete with fully functional lighting equipment. Cooking professionally while studying, he decided to officially add chef and stage technician to his resume and began to take “the artist’s journey.” Family and friends thought it impractical as they watched him sniff at everything to see what it was. But this was the critical cycle of finding his soul, and after graduation he began to understand himself in greater artistic dealings of both life and death. The parallels of this dynamic led him to faithfully forage materials from shorelines in the states and abroad. In solidarity, he breathed soul into these so-called gathered bones by twisting, molding, welding, and restoring them into something new. He called it a sculpture. He called himself a “plastician.”
Many sculptures and other pieces followed. He crafted jewelry of all sizes from not only oceans, but street debris found copper, wood, fabrics, metals, all assembled in a compassionately rendered orchestration. Much like the body lives by the mechanisms of cell and tissue matter, Lanzilotta’s Kafkaesque posit is that the mind’s demanding nature is comprised of precious thoughts and feelings which are essential parts of a complex system of dynamic relationships.
With a cacophony of collected materials and an espresso closeby, he begins the romantic rescue of his chosen rubbish. Armed only with a toolbox and a steady hand, Lanzilotta has no idea how his next piece will turn out. The materials themselves seem flattened out, yet filled with ideas, but are deeply anemic and increasingly unable to act upon them without his help. To him, even the most miniscule pieces of plastic are absolutely essential, giving and uniquely perfect. He possesses a rare, youthful infatuation with the idea of possibility. In a broad perspective, it is a yearning that will remain long after both creators and viewers of today cease to be. Now and forever, crevices and canyons of the earth will continue to provide possibilities in unexpected places.
One of his most prized pieces entitled “Hat for Late Summer”. The piece celebrates found discarded plastics, Starbucks stirrers, copper wire, yarn, broom bristles, ikea plastic sheets, bottles, containers, and oyster netting. His friend had spent her shortlived years astounding others by her artistic velocity, especially in environmental arenas. At his show in Biarritz, the starkly lit piece casts a secondary effect on the wall and floor in its silent shadow perhaps her answer to his call. What Lanzilotta does is important because it commemorates the seasons of the soul, drawing connections between ourselves and objects. His art is not only for us. It is not only a marker of his own understanding, but a map for those who follow after us.
Lanzilotta is a Bronx 200 Artist
Artist Mission State
My artistic mission is to bring greater significance to the seemingly insignificant. I am a ‘plastician”. I work with plastic waste, detritus, rubbish, fragments of litter, trash, flotsam and jetsom. I work predominantly with plastics. My art supply store is the environment we live in.
My work is inspired and influenced by Gestalt Philosophy, specifically Kurt Koffka’s principle posit,” The whole is other than the sum of its parts”. My “whole” invites the viewer to find increased value and richness in the common and mundane. The world has become plasticized. I rescue this debris from landfills, oceans, beaches and other waterways. I recoup wasted, discarded materials. I repurpose insignificant items and give them a new purpose. Significance. Beauty. A new vision.
I use a principle of Gestalt Theory called: Functional Fixedness. What use does an object have other than its intended purpose. I manipulate elements to recreate objects of intrigue, conversation and discovery.
The most insignificant piece of debris becomes “other than itself”. In return I hope the viewer becomes “other” than them self. I offer the viewer to discover beauty in cast-off items of the insignificant by design, composition, ornamentation, color, form, movement and dynamic juxtaposition of materials.