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Artist Federico Uribe Turns Agents of Death Into Living Beauty

  • Faiza Elmasry

Artist Federico Uribe is known for his creative style in transforming everyday objects into works of art: colorful shoelaces, pencils, electric cables and pins. His latest medium? Bullet shells.

The life-size animal sculptures and brightly colored landscapes represent the Colombian-born artist's conviction of our ability to turn destruction and death into peace and beauty. “I’m trying to make beauty out of these testimonies of death,” he says. “There is all these ugly memories related to these objects and I am trying to make something that make people find beauty in pain."

Growing up in a country torn by war, Uribe, who now lives in Miami, Florida, says death has always been an inspiration to him. Behind each bullet shell, which he buys from a metal recycling company, is a sad tale. He says what he wants to do is create beauty out of these accumulation of ugly stories.

Never before seen

The bullet collection is now on display at the Adelson Gallery in New York. Gallery director, Adam Adelson, says visitors are fascinated by Uribe’s works. “[It's] something they clearly have never seen before in their entire lives,” he explains. “It's not just the novelty of the media. It's not just the fact that this is made out of bullet shells, or piano keys or colored pencils. You realize that they are done so well."

To some of those visitors, the bullet animals are a reminder of the horrors of war, to others, the exhibit is about hunting, and for environmentally-conscious gallery visitors, it’s a statement about defending endangered species. Whatever their interpretation, Federico Uribe is pleased his art is speaking to so many people.

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