Turning Plastic Into High Fashion

Using 90,000 plastic bottles, he created a clothing line. And now this artist has been awarded $625,000 through the MacArthur "genius" grant.

How will you rise?

This artist transformed 90,000 plastic bottles into a clothing line. Mel Chin uses art to visualize issues like Flint’s lead-poisoned water and climate change. In 2018, that same year, his mixed reality experience, “Unmoored,” depicted Times Square 26 feet underwater.

“When I went to Flint, the people questioned me there, like, “What kind of project do you have in mind because how are you going to use us now?” And I'm glad they asked that and they challenged me. I said Well you know I'll pay you to fill this tractor trailer full load plastic bottles and then I'm gonna take them down to company that transforms it into cloth and I'll take it to the fashion designer and she will design rainwear and swimwear patterns out of that and now they're suing Tracy Reese designs in Flint. I do feel that art is more a catalytic structure that provides an option that did not happen yet. It is a surreal experience invented to connect us with our reality. It is not about convincing you to believe in climate change or not believe in climate change. It is there to provoke a question like 'How will you rise?' And that's the most important contribution, I think we all can make,” the artist says.

Chin's opus defies categorization — he's worked with media from animated films and ecological installations in landfills to immersive virtual reality exhibitions in Times Square. Chin is also a Black Mountain College Legacy Fellow at UNC Asheville and worked closely with UNCA students in the creation and installation of "mixed-reality" projects "Wake" and "Unmoored" in Times Square in the summer of 2018. He's a passionate advocate for the environment and much of his work revolves around climate change. Now, he’s one of the 2019 MacArthur Genius Grant winners where fellows receive a $625,000 stipend to support creativity and address social challenges.


20/10/2019 13:58

27 commentaires

  • Kimmisha C.
    17/01/2020 01:29

    So does Flint get that money since they STILL dont have clean water or....??

  • Raquel M.
    16/01/2020 22:18


  • Anne S.
    12/01/2020 22:05

    Great amazing transforming ides

  • Marian R.
    11/01/2020 03:00


  • John H.
    06/01/2020 00:48

    How that helps people in flint?

  • Carlos H.
    02/01/2020 16:36

    How did that help the flint water crisis?

  • Carlos S.
    01/01/2020 21:00

    that's great but anyone notice the eye patch changed eyes ...🤔... I can still read background stuff so I know it changed and wasn't inverted

  • Gianne C.
    25/12/2019 05:28


  • James W.
    23/12/2019 21:36

    Plastic clothes tend to melt to skin in a fire situation. Now, use them to patch and or rebuild roads is the way to go! The road needs rebuilt? There is a machine that, as you are laying the road, will melt the plastic as you go along. Just add a bit of rock on the top to give a grip surface and there you go. DONE!

  • Sandra O.
    19/12/2019 19:16

    Nice art

  • Iliana G.
    18/12/2019 00:43

    Paula Fernandez

  • Carlos O.
    12/12/2019 22:02

    ropa? en un mundo tan capitalista donde te pones la ropa un día y luego la botas. Creo que debería inventar algo que sea duradero. Me gustó mas el que ideó bloques con botellas de plástico para construir casas.

  • Sofia A.
    07/12/2019 14:49


  • Aleida N.
    05/12/2019 11:55

    Excelente idea.

  • Pepita R.
    03/12/2019 20:20

    He is so innovative.

  • Jenny R.
    02/12/2019 18:25


  • Giselle B.
    01/12/2019 20:31

    Y no le hace daño a la piel? Y al agua ?

  • Merrily W.
    29/11/2019 18:13

    This is great. My concern is our clothing seems to be a source of micro plastics. How much do these new materials shed?

  • Cristina L.
    15/11/2019 00:59

    Theres no way to escape plastic. This is a sad situation that its been dressed as art.

  • Margarita D.
    31/10/2019 13:41


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