Mosaic of discarded bottlecaps transforms Venezuelan plaza

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — A young Venezuelan artist has transformed a once-abandoned plaza in the country’s capital with a huge, vibrant mosaic made of bottlecaps.

Four huge macaws, bright sunflowers and images of El Avila national park burst from the 43-meter (141-foot) long wall in the El Hatillo neighborhood of Caracas.

Twenty-three-year-old artist Oscar Olivares worked with the local environmental group OkoSpiri and the Movement in Architecture for the Future to collect some 200,000 bottlecaps from local residents in an effort to bolster environmental consciousness at a time when the country’s economic crisis has led people to misuse green spaces as dumping grounds.

The caps, left in their original colors, give shape to birds, flowers and the branches of a araguaney, the country’s national tree.

The project headed by María Daniela Velasco, founder of OkoSpiri, cost $2,000 and involved about a dozen people working with Olivares.

She said it was a form of “passive protest against indiscriminate consumption, exacerbated by this sort of material, such as plastic,” which, she noted, has contaminated many of the earth’s ecosystems.

The small plaza in El Hatillo had been decaying for years, becoming a dumping ground for trash before creation of the mural, and restoration efforts by local authorities.

“This plaza was abandoned and lifeless,” said local journalist Mariana Martinez, 25. “With this mural, the vitality of the place has been recovered and a community space has been rescued.”

“To me, this work represents the hope of a country that we want to rebuild, even by way of recycled plastic bottlecaps,” she said.