Madison Davis/Photographer
Madison Davis/Photographer
Madison Davis/Photographer

Grad student Kyle Bader uses trash to create art

Bader shies away from traditional media to make art that “makes people think.”

By Cassie Allen | Sept. 5, 2016

Tags: Art with purpose


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Graduate student Kyle Bader’s art studio is full of bubble wrap, empty packs of cigarettes and old bags of dishwasher detergent.

This isn’t a list of things in Bader’s trash can; these are his art materials.

After coming to MU in fall 2014, Bader settled into a small, white-walled cubicle and began creating art. Like many artists, he does use traditional materials polyurethane, oil paints, dirty work-gloves and brushes. But what makes him unique is that he also uses random pieces of trash picked up around Columbia to make his art.

“Recently, I passed up a great opportunity for material,” Bader said. “There was the dumpster I biked by every day full of great material, and each time I thought I should drive down here. One day, I biked past and it was gone.”

Various pieces of garbage picked up from around the city can be seen glued to the wooden panels Bader uses as foundation for his art. His inspiration comes from a variety of sources, ranging from German painter Sigmar Polke to graffiti artist Banksy.

Even though Bader said his upbringing was different from some other artists, his goal is still to figure out how to convey a message.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to talk about,” Bader said. “Artists, musicians — they [have] something to say, and I didn’t know what to say because I wasn’t necessarily a struggling person. I grew up with a great childhood. I wasn’t the typical starving artist, but I had respect for the field. I wanted to be a part of the conversation, even if I didn’t know what to say.”

Originally, Bader painted traditional pieces that had a specific theme and used more traditional media, but since coming to MU, his art has taken a new turn.

“I’m very interested in the opposition of the power scale, whether it be something of the mundane value to something more glorified,” Bader said. “I put the things together in the same platform and wonder why we favor one thing over the other. Why does one thing deserve our attention over another? I put that to the test, all on one surface.”

The goal of his art is not to offend, but to make the viewer think.

“Someone may see the glass as half empty, that I’m degrading these people, like Katy Perry or Kanye, and putting them to the same status as trash, but really it’s proposing the question of ‘why?’” Bader said. “If you don’t initially recognize it as trash, and instead see Katy Perry, someone you may really love, what does it matter? It’s about the viewpoint.”

The message portrayed in his pieces is one of wondering, and of passion. Bader himself has many passions, from learning Spanish and bass to playing lacrosse and watching the Saints.

“Just get to work,” Bader said. “The problems will never be resolved if you don’t do anything physically. You can’t just let the ideas float in your head. If you don’t at least try to put it on the surface, you won’t solve any problems.”

Edited by Katie Rosso |

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