Simone Spicer, 54, wanted to make a smaller piece of art compared to her other, more time-consuming pieces about the ocean. She was “disgusted” by President Donald Trump, which gave her an idea.
“Why don’t I do a head of this guy that’s just trash mouth, a joke,” said Spicer who has been a sculptor for about 32 years.
The sculpture of Trump’s head is called “Trash Talk.” It’s made out of several different recycled plastics initially bonded together by Spicer’s glue gun and then secured in place with silicone adhesive.
- Milk jugs for the face, nose and mouth
- Tide bottles for the hair and eyebrows
- Fabric softener bottles for the suit and eyes
- Coffee can lid for the tie
Spicer use to make pieces out of corrugated cardboard, but she settled on plastic because it’s available everywhere and it’s free.
“I like working with materials that have a past life,” she said, “You see the milk jug and the head. It makes our brains kind of move around a lot more I think.”
Spicer, who works out of her home/studio in Montgomery County, started “Trash Talk” the first week of February and finished the piece before the month was over. It took her about 50 hours to make. She drew inspiration from two cartoon pictures of Trump that exaggerated his features.
While she was working, Spicer said she realized the significance of the plastics she was using to create Trump’s head. Especially the pupils of the eyes, which are actually holes that look into the inside of the head.
“I’m using the label and it says ‘Tide’ in big letters,” she said. “It’s almost like the changing tide, you know. And now his head is hollow and that represents his empty-headedness. Although since these were all my milk jugs from my personal consumption, they’re all organic. The way I turn them for his face, they all had the organic label on the inside of the head. So i’d look through the ear or the eye, and all I would see is organic, organic, organic.”
Spicer added that seeing ‘organic’ was cool despite “how hideous” Trump is, and it made her realize that despite “whatever issues” [he might have], he is still a human being.
The materials that make up Trump’s head were found with some luck since Spicer felt the plastics she found were a perfect fit.
“I realized pretty quickly that his face was actually the same shape as a milk jug,” Spicer said.
Spicer submitted the piece to several political art shows, but the sculpture wasn’t accepted into any of them. She said that “Trash Talk” is one of the best things she’s ever made.
“Sometimes there’s a moment when you’re making art where everything comes together,” she said, “The idea, the materials, the way the hands are moving. It’s like this other force comes in.”
When Spicer is out collecting plastics for pieces like “Trash Talk”, she wears a hat made out of plastics and a jacket that lets people know she is making trash into art.
The jacket’s purpose is to indirectly explain to people why a woman is sifting through their recycling bin. The hat is like a hunter’s camouflage, but she’s looking for some good plastics, not animals to shoot.
Spicer’s main source for plastic is her friend Anne Lamb’s neighborhood in Springfield Township in Delaware County. Lamb is Spicer’s sidekick during these adventures, since Spicer doesn’t like going plastic-hunting alone, and Lamb knows everyone in the neighborhood. But Lamb chooses to not wear a plastic hat.
“These people [in Springfield] all have tons of kids, they’re major consumers and they separate their recycling,” Spicer said. “And they wash it. Nothing’s even dirty.”
Spicer hasn’t had to go dumpster diving to get any of her plastics even though she’s been a member of the Philadelphia Dumpster Divers —a local group of artists, friends and colleagues — for four years.
“Trash Talk” is on display at the Dumpster DIVERSions art show through Saturday. The show is part of Philadelphia Dumpster Divers’ 25th anniversary celebration from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 1548 E. Passyunk Ave.
Each diver was asked to choose their best piece for the anniversary event. Spicer picked her Trump head because it’s not “supercharged” like a beautiful teacup or piece of a vintage radio.
“My stuff is straight out of the trash bin.”