By Harry Kane
Consuelo Perez, 49, is a Somerville artist who lives in Davis Square. She immigrated to the area in 1987 and has been part of the art community ever since. Perez refers to herself as, “the trouble-maker of the whole city.” But really, she’s just a friendly Peruvian artist who makes trash into treasure.
Back in Peru, as a young girl, Perez was taught by her mother to knit and sow. They made clothing, sock puppets and toys. They didn’t have much money, so Perez had to learn how to be resourceful. It was a colorful time in Perez’s life, listening to her grandfather’s exaggerated stories of fighting with an octopus and serving in the navy.
No doubt, her unusual upbringing had etched a framework for her future artwork.
Now, many years later, Perez is married and has two daughters. And her house is very colorful, filled with love and spirit. The living room of Perez’s house has art projects from wall to wall. They are all made from trash she found in other neighbors’ receptacles.
“I’m not embarrassed anymore,” Perez says. She’s been sorting through trash for too long to care anymore.
Sometimes Perez even employs the help of a homeless woman. “She comes by the neighborhood and usually when I see her I ask her to collect bottles.” In return Perez gives her a few dollars or buys her lunch. The woman gladly goes through other people’s trash in search of the hidden gems Perez needs for her artwork.
Perez has been making art from recycled bottles and cans for many years – from abstract pieces to jewelry and everything in-between.
“It’s all in the blood – esta en la sangre,” she says. Many of her family members back in Peru are artists as well.
There’s no lack of creativity in her art studio. A giant green lizard made of recycled bottles and scraps of trash, all colorfully painted, and adorned with Christmas-style lights, chills out on her wooden cabinet.
In the windowsill sits a pig made recycled juice bottles. On the wall, a collage is made of Cheeto bags.
Her inspiration comes from the shapes of the bottles and her imagination.
Her latest project started while she was on her way home. One day Perez was driving through Union Square and she saw a bottle underneath a car. She stopped her car, got out, and picked up the bottle. That’s when she got the inspiration for a new creature. The shape of the bottle reminded her of a turkey’s leg. Later she found that her neighbor had a Korean syrup bottle that worked perfectly for the head of the turkey. And, she’d already been collecting fur that will be used as the feathers. Piece by piece she’s putting the creature together.
Another project idea came from finding small green water bottles, which made her think about The Incredible Hulk and Frankenstein. “That was the beginning of how I came up with it. Little by little I started looking for the pieces.” She calls it, “Incredible Juice Man.” His feet are made of Listerine bottles, his arms are orange juice bottles and his legs are 2 liter Ginger Ale bottles.
From a bottle-capped sheep to skeleton’s feet made of Aunt Jemima syrup bottles, Perez does it all, turning trash into treasure.
Contact Consuelo Perez at (617) 669-8598 or email: Copeal2002@Yahoo.com.