Upcycled Art

Upcycled Art

Danish abstract artist Maja Laerkholm invites Club Members to unleash their (sustainable) creativity this month.

As snow fell on Copenhagen, Maja Laerkholm huddled on her small balcony, paint and cardboard in hand.

The lack of space inside her apartment couldn’t quell her unwavering dedication to art, and she spent much of her time in 2018 braving the elements to bring her creative visions to life.

Inspired by Denmark’s everyday sustainability practices, she transformed discarded cardboard and paper into works of art. Creating an intriguing topography of paper on her canvases, she fashioned makeshift brushes from cardboard shreds.

Through a growing repertoire of unique works, Laerkholm earned a name for herself among Danish galleries. This month, she will share her techniques with Members at a Culture Connections event and, later, at a hands-on enrichment class.

Laerkholm and her family moved to Tokyo in December. As they unpacked, a fresh wave of creativity swept over her. Digging out her recycled materials from Copenhagen, she began drawing on her new surroundings in a phase of work she calls her “dreamy universe.”

“What I realized coming to Tokyo was that I wanted to sort of get new inspiration and not necessarily be attached to the Danish way as much,” she explains. “I wanted to be free and learn new things and explore the Tokyo art scene.”

Laerkholm was particularly captivated by kintsugi, a 500-year-old Japanese technique used for mending broken pottery with lacquer and powdered gold. This wabi sabi concept of embracing imperfections and celebrating the beauty of flaws resonated deeply with her and became a guiding principle in her artistic vision.

“I aim to give elements new life and, in a way, let them tell their story—hopefully making something pretty out of them,” she says.

Laerkholm says she hopes to inspire others the way Japan has left its mark on her work. The September 4 Culture Connections will offer a peek into her creative world while addressing the topic of sustainability and environmental consciousness.

“I would like to give [Members] a little bit of my dreamy universe,” she says. “Hopefully, they can make their own dreamy universe within that space.”

On September 20, Members will have a chance to try their hand at Laerkholm’s distinctive approach to art during her Art Attack class, part of Connections’ fall lineup of enrichment programs.

“People should be let loose, you could say, once they have explored how I do my art,” she says. “Hopefully, they find it fun to explore how you can, in a more unconventional way, make art with your hands and with the materials that are just around you.”

Culture Connections
September 4 | 10–11:30am

Art Attack
September 20 | 2–5pm

Words: Kiana Cook
Top image: Maja Laerkholm

September 2023