When Recycling Becomes Art – Interview with Thelma Lanuza

There are many different ways that we can care for our environment. One of the most classic strategies is recycling. Nowadays, many artists have found ways to use recycled materials to make art. Thelma Lanuza, is one of those artists. Thelma is 14 years old and an eighth grade student at the American Nicaraguan School. She has been using the recycling technique to develop what she calls “transformative paintings”. 

During the pandemic, Thelma explained how she wanted to invest her time creating a new technique that would embrace a deeper message.

In an interview with Thelma Lanuza she talks about the story behind her paintings and their meanings.

How would you describe your paintings?

“My paintings are different, creative, colorful , unique, and transformative.”

What inspired you to do the paintings?

“Since the Pandemic began I started questioning myself the reasons for it to exist. Earth has been continuously contaminated by us with no mercy. We have been killing the magnificent planet God has given us by exploiting it for our short term benefit, ignoring that in the long term we will leave our children and grandchildren without a place to live. This pandemic has given our planet a chance to recover, not completely, but at least a little bit. In my paintings I use recycling materials and paint the beauty of the colors in nature reflected in fishes. I transform garbage into art by incorporating it into my paintings. I want to make people aware of how much effort it takes nature to produce its resources and how valuable they are once they are transformed. I also want them to understand the vibrant colors in nature, a gift that has been given to us, and that we should take care of for our future generations.”


What has been your artistic experience? 

“Since I was a toddler I began painting and I haven’t stopped since then. I love my art classes at school and I have always been in art classes after school. I have learned to see images as shapes and not as what they actually are when drawings, and I have also learned that when you draw you don’t have to replicate an image exactly as it is, you can put your own unique twist to it to make it your own. I have also learned to express my feelings, and thoughts through my paintings. I have gone through different stages. For some time I worked on perspective and painted buildings, streets, etc. in different techniques but since the pandemic started, I have concentrated in nature. Lately I have been making jewelry also and have actually sold it through instagram. 10% of the money goes to provide education to girls in Nicaragua.”

What message do you wish to send?

“My recent paintings are colorful because I like to express happiness in them, not sadness or stress, but I also want to create awareness.  

In art you don’t always have to be a perfectionist and create every single detail with great perfection, you can be creative and innovate your ideas into something beautiful, which is not necessarily perfect.”

What do you wish to do with the paintings?

“I haven’t decided yet. I have given my mom a few of them and she has used them to decorate at home. I also sold one of them for a house at the beach.”

Thelma finishes her interview with a big smile on her face. 

Would you like to add anything?

“My paintings don’t have names because I believe that a painting can express different feelings to different people, therefore, you can name them however you want considering what they remind you of. 

The big one reminds me of the ocean and how inside of it, it has so much life and color. Therefore, my personal name for it would be Poseidon (god of the ocean).”

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