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Special to The Visitor
Michael Sager is an artist. That’s a good thing. However, Sager is more than that—he’s a socially conscious artist who is using his creativity to enhance people’s awareness of the environment. To appreciate what Michael is doing, art fans and anyone who has ecological awareness should attend a unique show of Sager’s work at the National Institute of Culture (INAC) Gallery in Las Bovedas, Casco Antiguo, May 14 – 31.
So what is Sager doing? Sager creates artistic and designer pieces from discarded plastic bottle caps. His creative plastic-bottle-cap art includes trendy and campy wall hangings and stylish lamps and lights. As a special feature of his upcoming show in the French Quarter of Casco Antiguo, Michael has designed some unusual but fashionable pieces of clothing made out of bottle caps that will be modeled on opening night from 6 – 9:30 p.m. Some of the fashions are whimsical and some of the bustiers are sexy. All the art will consist of plastic bottle caps saved from the landfill and turned into something attractive. “I’m trying to prove that you can wear garbage,” Sager said with a wink.
Sager, who has lived in Casco Antiguo for over six years, was inspired by some photos he saw by Chris Jordan that depicted man’s impact on the earth by photographing dead sea birds on Midway Island who had been poisoned and strangled to death by plastic pollution. When some of the birds were opened up they were stuffed with all kinds of plastic debris including bottle caps.
Sager, who has also worked as a professional photographer and is from Canada, where he was a home builder, furniture designer, and also built theatre and movie sets, explained that he simply “started playing around with the caps to see what I could come up with.” One of his early creations was a table top replica of the leaning Tower of Pisa made out of tops for orange juice containers. At the same time, Mike began researching the problems with plastic pollution and discovered that the U.S. alone disposes of 200 billion plastic bottles a year adding up to enough garbage as the height of ten Empire State Buildings.
After his first well-received show at the Tantalo Hotel about a year ago, friends started saving bottle caps from the trashcan as well as those they found discarded on the litter-strewn streets of the city. Now Sager works out of his studio in Casco, where he was set up by his friend Joel Jelderks, who had developed some properties in the area. “I was looking for something new,” Sager, who also plays the guitar and sings, explained, “so, when I heard that there were plastic islands floating in the Pacific, that made recycling these items into art feel like the right thing to do.”
Eventually, Sager formed a partnership with Bliss’ Earth, a local recycling company, and now receives large canvas bags filled to overflowing with as many 60 thousand caps. Michael is still developing his methods of assembling plastic bottle caps into works of art in an ongoing evolving process. However, a growing number of fans are already displaying his creations in their homes and offices.
Will Sager’s art cut down on the mass of plastic in the waste stream? Probably not by much, but what he is trying to accomplish is draw peoples’ attention to a situation they need to be aware of—the growing amount of plastic packaging that is ultimately thrown away. According to Sager, Coca Cola, for example, anticipates 1.9 billion servings a day, which translates to a staggering number of caps. That’s why Sager is going forward with a proposal for Coca Cola to sponsor a design competition in the Panamanian public schools to design murals made out of caps that will represent all the provinces of Panama and help educate the students about the effects of litter and pollution.
His latest show at the INAC gallery on Plaza Francia starting May 14 is an excellent opportunity to support an artist who wants to have a positive impact on the environment we all share. Admission to the show is at least five plastic bottle caps.
Follow Michael though his website: Facebook.com/CapArtPanama