How this artist breathes new life into discarded materials

The artist has used her art to bring new life to old boxes, bags, and paper.

Rebecca, Artwork Archive’s Featured Rebecca, uses a wide range of sustainable practices as well as natural materials to create mixed-media works.

Her work is a reflection of the environmental movement and the drive to preserve our planet. Rebecca’s work is a mix of rich organic colors that she finds on her outdoor adventures, whether it be on hand-made paper or recycled grocery bags.

She says, “I have a deep appreciation for wild, untouched land and handcrafted art.” “My work pays tribute to the natural beauty that surrounds me.”

Rebecca Youssef’s commitment to a conscious creative practice has led her towards a sustainable art practice. She is often found with her hands in paper pulp or soil or working on native tree reforestation in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Artwork Archive was able to speak with Rebecca Youssef to learn about her sustainable art process, her desire to create a zero-waste studio, and the way Artwork Archive helps her manage her career as an artist!

Discover to see more of her work and find out more about her artistic practice.

What is your favorite part or the most satisfying?

When I reach the point in a piece when things start to come together, that is my favorite part of the art process.

Now that I’ve gotten through “the mess middle,” things are beginning to fall into their place. It’s as if I can see the light at the other end of the dark tunnel.

You bring new life to materials that were once discarded. What inspired you to focus on the intersection of art, environmentalism, and sustainability?

It wasn’t until a few short years ago that I began to study to become an arborist, and I started to use only repurposed material.

My love for trees and my advocacy of urban reforestation was directly at odds with the fact that I enjoyed working with paper.

I am also a native oak tree cultivator in California, and I did not want to create art at the cost of trees. Today, I use mainly recycled paper grocery bags, discarded cardboard, and paper that I hand-make from junk mail.

What is your hope for the impact of your work on those who see it?

By purposefully using materials, I aim to provoke reflection on the reciprocity we have with nature.

We must maintain what supports us. I am a firm believer that the best things we can make are those that work with nature and do not take from it.

It is commendable that you are committed to creating a more sustainable practice in art. What are some of the specific practices/ways that you have made this change?

My goal is to have a zero-waste, sustainable studio.

I do not purchase canvas or substrates made commercially. My work is based on repurposing, upcycling, and reusing items that would otherwise be destined for landfills or the recycling bin.

I’ve been making inks with black walnuts and oak galls. I still use traditional paints.

Striking for a sustainable artistic practice continues to stimulate creativity, experimentation, and resourcefulness.