Mexican artist and educator Mariana Acosta, recently featured in DesignMilk, launched the Precious Waste project as a means to explore the quality of “preciousness” in an academic setting. Acosta leads industrial and graphic design students at Mexico’s Universidad Gestalt de Diseño through an investigative process of sourcing waste materials and transforming them into sleek, thoughtfully crafted wearable pieces. Discarded milk containers, VHS videotape, and egg cartons are imbued with new value once they’re reengineered and presented as art jewelry.
The Precious Waste project itself been a way for Acosta to repurpose the resources available to her. She describes on the project’s website how she had to abandon her dream of staying in the US after graduate school and return to Mexico, where contemporary jewelry isn’t as widely recognized as an artistic discipline. She describes why she made the choice to work with waste materials: “Because they were all I had left as working materials after graduating from a very prestigious but also pricey school. So I decided to make lemonade with the lemons I had, or as I named my toilet paper cardboard rolls jewelry series When Life Gives You Shit, Use It as Fertilizer.”