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Self-Taught Artist Mr. Imagination Explains What Makes Bottlecaps Art

(PDF) (DOC) (JPG)December 3, 2007

(Mahwah) – Mr. Imagination, who is exhibiting a number of his unusual bottlecap pieces in an exhibit, Collection Parallax, at Ramapo College of New Jersey, will give a presentation about his work Wednesday, December 12 at 3 p.m. in the Kresge Gallery on campus.  He will be available for photos with visitors on one of the works in the show, a royal throne made of bottlecaps.

The self-taught artist began using bottlecaps in 1988 when Lisa Stone, then director of the Carl Hammer Gallery, gave him barrels of beer bottlecaps.  The first object he made was a costume for a Halloween party, winning top prize.  Today, bottlecap clothing, sculpture, staffs and the royal throne are just a few of his productions.  He continues to also work with discards found on the street, including cement and sandstone.

In 1978, prior to gaining fame for his bottlecap creations, the artist was mugged and shot.  He spent months in the hospital in a coma.  He measures his life experiences against the benchmark of the mugging.  Several years after the shooting, he dubbed himself Mr. Imagination, a name given to him earlier by someone whom he can’t remember.

The irony of rescuing and reclaiming what has been overlooked and thrown away is not lost on the artist, an African-American who lives in Bethlehem, PA.  Indeed, he relishes the process of resurrection and re-empowerment, creating art with the discards of the so-called dominant culture.

Mr. Imagination’s artwork can be found in the Smithsonian, the Carl Hammer Galleries, and the House of Blues located in both Chicago and Orlando.  He created a piece for the Coca Cola Olympic Salute to Folk Art at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and was featured in an exhibit at the Terra Museum in 1993.

This program is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.


About Ramapo College

Ramapo College of New Jersey is the state’s premier public liberal arts college and is committed to academic excellence through interdisciplinary and experiential learning, and international and intercultural understanding. The comprehensive college is situated among the beautiful Ramapo Mountains, is within commuting distance to New York City, was named one of the 50 Most Beautiful College Campuses in America by CondeNast Traveler, and boasts the best on-campus housing in New Jersey per Established in 1969, Ramapo College offers bachelor’s degrees in the arts, business, data science, humanities, social sciences and the sciences, as well as in professional studies, which include business, education, nursing and social work. In addition, the College offers courses leading to teacher certification at the elementary and secondary levels, and offers graduate programs leading to master’s degrees in Accounting, Applied Mathematics, Business Administration, Contemporary Instructional Design, Computer Science, Creative Music Technology, Data Science, Educational Leadership, Nursing, Social Work and Special Education, as well as a Doctor of Nursing Practice.


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