Environmentalists have been telling people to reuse and recycle for a long time, but artist Brian Mock has taken this idea to a whole new level by making works of art out of scrap metal. Mock learned how to weld on his own and began making metal sculptures in the late 1990s. He lives in a suburb of Portland, Oregon.
He liked to use things that other people had thrown away. Mock told Wescover, “I love working with reclaimed items because they already have a lot of history and are interesting on their own.”
Mock says, “Giving these old, ordinary things a new life as one sculpture is a difficult and rewarding artistic process.” His life-size statues are made up of hundreds of car parts, nuts, bolts, tools, and wires, which he helps people see in a different way.
Mock uses whatever he can find to make a sculpture that fits the idea he has in mind. Mock made a metal guitar sculpture called “Heavy Metal” that was bigger than life size. For the headstock, he used pieces of old license plates, and for the body, he used old guitar parts.
(Courtesy of Brian Mock) He told Wescover, “I’m interested in the challenge of making a completely unique piece of art from a random collection of discarded and often ordinary objects.”
This is clear in his sculptures, like the Crouching Man he made for the Dirty Habit restaurant in Washington, D.C. “Used spoons and forks were used in the right way,” Mock said. “This piece was made to make people feel “uncomfortable intrigue” to match the atmosphere of the restaurant.”
One of his dog statues, called Zepto, is in the Zetta Hotel in San Francisco. It is made of nuts and bolts, spatulas, sieves, and fork handles.
His clever ways of putting together scraps of metal make each piece unique. Mock said, “Every single one of my sculptures is an original, and none of them can ever be copied or made again.” “I also put something personal into each of my sculptures. It’s kind of like a signature.”
Even though metal can seem cold and lifeless, especially when it’s in a scrap pile, Mock finds a way to make it come to life. “My sculptures are also meant to get people interested. “The reactions of the audience keep me going and help me bring my ideas to life,” he says. “My pieces come to life when they have eyes or when I can make them move smoothly, like the hair on a mane or the way a fin curves.”
Even though his sculptures have won awards and been shown in major galleries, hotels, and public spaces all over the United States, Mock’s work is still very simple and made by hand.
He used his own dogs and cats as models when he made sculptures of dogs and cats. “When I sculpt dogs, I use my dog Haley as a model, and it’s always funny when she’s in the shop,” he said. “She and my wife are my best coworkers and the only ones I have!”
Even though Mock’s art might be unique, he wants it to make people think about trash and scrap in a different way. “I hope my work makes people stop and get involved, to look more closely at things they know and think about how they could be used again in their own lives,” he says.