Cuban Artist Defends Recycling to Protect the Environment

Marnia Briones at La Feria Verde (Eco-Festival), alongside other projects, ventures and businesses celebrating World Environment Day, in Havana.  Photo: Taken from Facebook

Marnia Briones makes unique pieces of art, using waste responsibly, so as not to contribute to climate change and looking after the environment.

By IPS / Cuba

HAVANA TIMES – It was shortages of materials initially and, then, the need to create in less-than-favorable conditions that Marnia Briones became a Cuban business woman that develops her art using recycled materials and protecting the environment.

“Recycling, art and transformation” is the project conceived by this single mother, who discovered that match boxes, furniture, all kinds of fabric and other mediums can be used to create a world of beauty and functionality.

Her unique handmade pieces, with acrylic on cardboard, paper, fabric, cuts off other pieces, costume jewelery make her stand out, as she is driven by the premise of giving importance to the responsible use of waste, so as not to contribute to climate change and thereby protecting the environment.

“Recycling should form part of our everyday lives, not just something we do every now and again,” she writes on her Facebook page.

A display of her work based on this idea was on show at the Feria Verde (Eco-Festival), on Saturday June 11th, alongside other projects, ventures and businesses celebrating World Environment Day, in Quinta de los Molinos, Havana.

Handpainted stools, one of the proposals you can find at the studio/gallery where Briones organizes visits for groups and holds yoga classes.

The art of recycling

“I began painting when I was a little girl, I’m a self-taught artist that decided to explore other mediums such as my family’s old clothes, as a result of shortages of materials like canvas and watercolors. This was the first boost to discovering that there is always a way when it comes to creation,” she says.

For over two decades, Briones decided “not to give up painting as a lifestyle too”, despite hardship. So, she began to make art on different formats such as pieces of furniture, fans, matchboxes, shoes. This led her to paint on waste materials.

Living this particular creative experience, she learned “the value of recycling, the wealth and infinite ways to work on seemingly useless objects, as well as understanding the great impact this has on the environment,” she explains.

While concentrating on rescuing as much waste material for her transformative work as she could, she began to research about recycling, protecting and looking after raw materials, as well as studying permaculture at the same time.

“I didn’t let recycling become a temporary learning process, but I have continued to incorporate it mindfully in my work, both in personal and commercial projects. I focused on making recycling the heart of my art,” she points out.

Meanwhile, she believes she learned the way to “transmit a message, via art, about how all society should handle waste, including children.”

One of the workshops run by Marnia Briones, “Arte y Naturaleza”, is held with students from the Cambodia State School, in Havana.

Art and activism online

During lockdown, to reduce the COVID-19 outbreak, Briones found the support she needed to promote her work on social media. She explains that it was by creating her Facebook page, Marnia Reciclaje Arte y Transformacion, that she established contact with a diverse audience.

“In addition to showing them my work, I share advice and tips about how to treat certain objects. I also talk about actions and activities run by many environmental activists. Thus, I’m able to contribute my grain of sand to this important work in favor of improving our lives.”

Convincing people about the usefulness of recycling is a continuous and slow process, the artist believes.

“When people around me saw my art, they began to recycle so they could give me materials, while I managed to get others interested in creative recycling,” she explains.

With the aim of raising awareness about recycling among children, she also runs voluntary workshops at her son’s school, under the project name “Arte y Naturaleza. “It’s to show children everything they can do by recycling and looking after the environment,” she says.

Earlier this month, she restarted the project with students from the Cambodia State School, in Miramar, in Havana’s Playa municipality.

According to Briones, projects “always appear in the process. It’s just a matter of continuing to create and not losing sight as a business woman.

One of her current goals is to “help to shine a light on other single mothers who, living in Cuba, with all of its hardship, have found in art a means to support their families, even with things that might seem like they have absolutely no use.”

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times