8 wacky and wonderful sculptures made from old CDs.

When Australian artist Sean Avery got his first MP3 player, he decided to give his CDs a brand new life.

Avery, a writer, illustrator, sculptor, and teacher by trade, decided to crack and crumble his albums to create beautiful, imaginative works of art instead, like this:


"Bear" (mixed media). All photos via Sean Avery, used with permission.

"I love the idea of deconstructing everyday objects and reforming them into organic shapes," Avery said via e-mail. "Materials are cheap and people have an instant connection with the work when they finally identify that it's made from objects they handle every day."

"Bullfinch" (mixed media). This little bird is only 10 centimeters (3.9 inches) tall.

Some of Avery's most iconic pieces of art are plant and animal sculptures made from up-cycled CDs on wire mesh frames.

Friends and fans often donate material to Avery, and he procured his first batch of old discs from his dad's office. But he's not afraid to source materials for his art the old fashioned way, too.

"I like to hunt around scrap yards for stranger pieces of obsolete tech," he said.

"Squidy" (mixed media). The legs are kinetic, and the entire sculpture is close to 40 inches long.

Though Avery is also an illustrator, he often lets passion and instinct guide his creations.

Before to starting a new piece, he searches for a variety of images of each animal, but he no longer draws a blueprint or elaborate sketch.

"I used to try and draw my animals to better understand the form, but it sort of sucked the fun out of the process because all I wanted to do was build."

"Hummingbird 8" (mixed media).

And build he does.

Avery uses simple kitchen scissors to cut out the shapes he needs. Then he arranges them by size and color and glues each plastic shard one by one onto a wire frame.

A close-up of "Hummingbird 8" (mixed media).

Each sculpture takes one to two weeks of work, along with lots of hot glue (and caffeine).

"I make lots of mistakes and I burn myself constantly," Avery said. "I find CD shards in my hair, shower, bed and cereal for weeks after I've finished a major project."

Avery constructs pieces large and small for clients and personal projects. His work ranges in size from just 6 inches to large creations a few feet wide. Each one is a vibrant, bold expression that begs to be touched.

"Pangolin" (mixed media) This piece was made out of Nespresso capsules for the company's Project Upcycle campaign.

"Peregrine Falcon 2" (mixed media). This commissioned piece required 40 CDs!

And Avery's not the only one turning trash into treasure, either.

In 2014, he represented Australia at the International From Waste to Art Exhibition in Baku, Azerbaijan. At this annual event, artists and makers from all over the world exhibit their pieces made from domestic waste. It's a unique opportunity for conservation and fine art to come together and encourage an important conversation.

"Chameleon 2" (mixed media).

Avery's work is the perfect example of repurposing waste to make something beautiful.

The average person creates around 4.3 pounds of trash and waste each day. And nearly 55% of the waste generated in the U.S. ends up in landfills, which are quickly running out of space.

"Purple Flowers" (mixed media), a collaborative effort of Avery and Caris Bailey.

While not all of our personal refuse can be turned into works of art, much of it can be composted, recycled, or repurposed.

Sometimes it's just a matter of taking the time to sort and sift and perhaps to tap into our creative impulses.

True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.