Featured Artist Cathy Ehrler

Cathy Ehrler upcycles trash into meticulously created mosaics and assemblage art. See more of her portfolio by visiting her website.


floral mosaic by Cathy Ehrler

“Trash Flowers 3″ trash mosaic, 16″ x 20”


“Trash Artist” wasn’t exactly the title I was looking for when I started my career as an artist.


watercolor by Cathy Ehrler

“Eco 1″ (from the series Environmental Reverberations) watercolor, 30″ x 18”


Creating watercolors, acrylic and oil paintings of any subject seemed to be the way to go. I enjoyed being in nature and landscapes were a popular subject for me. I would often set up my easel, only to find litter in my field of vision. This made me realize that someday the world would be covered with trash on land and sea. Then an idea came to me—why not experiment and explore ways to find artistic merit in the trash itself?


watercolor by Cathy Ehrler

“Eco 14″ (from the series Environmental Reverberations) watercolor, 30″ x 18”


First, I explored the comparisons between trash and nature in a series I called Environmental Reverberations. These paintings depict the repetition of shapes and color in our environment. They show the echoes that repeat over and over in both the lushness of natural subjects and the excesses of our waste.


3D collage by Cathy Ehrler

“Week 33 – Self Portrait” (from the series Trash Art on Means St) trash assemblage, 36″ x 36″


Next came a series I designated as Trashy Art on Means Street. This collection consists of 52 works made up of trash I picked up on the street near my home each day. After photographing the assemblage, the trash would be either recycled or reused.


mosaic/assemblage by Cathy Ehrler

“Week 42″ (from the series Trashy Art on Means St) trash mosaic/assemblage, 36″ x 36”


After working with trash as a medium, I realized I could create beautiful, permanent artwork from what I found.


watercolor assemblage by Cathy Ehrler

“Joyful” watercolor assemblage, 60″ x 36″


Later, from the stacks of completed watercolors and canvases accumulating in my studio, it occurred to me that rather than tossing them, I could cut them up and make a new series of assemblages that were much more exciting than the original watercolors.


work in progress by Cathy Ehrler

Work in progress by artist Cathy Ehrler


Currently my work is focused on mosaics made with trash and recycling. These works consist of thousands of pieces cut tediously by hand from various trash materials—cartons, cans, old CDs, polystyrene—you name it. Thy are glued to a recycled background or substrate.


landscape mosaic by Cathy Ehrler

“Trashformation 6″ trash mosaic, 36″ x 24”


I look for colors and patterns in the garbage that capture the beauty of nature. The completed mosaic pieces feature mostly florals and landscapes. By taking a closer look, you will see that these works are made of bits and pieces of trash, some from products that are likely familiar.


mosaic by Cathy Ehrler

“Trashwork – Poppies” trash mosaic, 24″ x 36″


We all need an occasional reminder that motivates us in our quest to continue treating Mother Earth with dignity and respect. I found my motivation in converting trash and recycling into art. Hopefully the pieces I create can inspire, remind, and motivate each of us to do our part.


mosaic by Cathy Ehrler

“Trashwork – Tulips” trash mosaic, 24″ x 36″


I am consciously working to improve my work and the environment at the same time.  Please enjoy my art; I hope it makes you smile and appreciate the world we live in.


Artist Cathy Ehrler invites you to follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Etsy.


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  1. Cathy,
    I really like your watercolor painting “Echo#” the trees winding around each other and the blending of different colors between. I also like you chicken “Week 42. the feathers look almost real, and the bubble wrap ground has an interesting texture.

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