Hundreds of perfectly useful items are tossed into the dump at the end of every school year, so Hongtao Zhou picks them back out and turns them into these crazy bulls. Arm chairs and legs that might have rotted are instead turned into powerful art pieces. Why bulls? To Zhou, they are emblematic of the materialistic cowboy culture that others seek to emulate at the expense of our environment.
Wrapped with throwaway belts, these pieces also represent our treatment of animals and overall social condition. The artist admires the material freedom and plenty of American culture, but expresses dismay at rainforest and species extinction, massive landfills and garbage patches, CO2 emissions and ice cover shrinkage caused as a result.
Currently on exhibit at the Memorial Union Porter Butts Gallery in Madison, Wisconsin, these pieces are designed to draw attention to our destructive tendencies. Ironically, by upcycling a discarded material in such a creative and striking way, Zhou also shows the other side of humanity – one that is beautiful, nurturing, and thoughtful.