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From trash to treasure

“I feel like a strong piece of my life is artistic and a strong piece of my life is really scientific, and science

 

and art always go hand in hand.”


Like many others in her field of study, Tariro Mupaso, a fourth-year UT student majoring in exercise science, plans to attend graduate school and become a physical therapist. 


Many of her classes are scientific in nature and her diploma will soon declare “bachelor of science,” but there is more to Mupaso than just equations and experiments. 


She is also an artist – a trash artist. 


Last summer, she began collecting trash she found lying around the city of Toledo and UT’s campus to create collages, sculptures and other works of art.


“I’ve always been really creative,” Mupaso said. “People are always so surprised when I tell them my major is sciences.” 


She said she became interested in repurposing trash when she met her boyfriend, who is also a trash artist. She discovered that they both follow the modernist art movement of Dadaism, which often declares even the most basic objects such as spoons and urinals to be works of art.


She began helping him make pieces, which inspired her to start collecting trash and create her own works of art.


“Actually, now I’m more popular than him even though he inspired me,” she said, laughing.


Unlike her boyfriend, who searches garbage bins to find the next best piece of art, she said searching for her simply means looking down. 


“I just go walk to class and then if I go to pick up a sandwich from Subway or something and I find something on the floor that would be a potential collage piece or a sculpture piece, I pick it up,” Mupaso said. 


She has created 58 pieces to date, and each one includes at least one piece of trash. 


“I repurpose a lot of stuff,” she said. “I never really buy anything new for my pieces.”


Mupaso has always loved art and had a passion for environmental issues. In recent years, she even joined in a UT campus cleanup with an environmental club, she said. 


“Freshman year, I realized how messy campus is,” Mupaso said. “Even though our school does try to do a good job of keeping it clean, there still are environmental problems on campus.”


Creating art with trash is just one way Mupaso works to combine science and art. 


Her artistic endeavors have paved a way for a better environment and will soon enhance the lives of people too. 


Mupaso said she wants to specialize in neuro-rehabilitation and work with patients with traumatic brain injuries. She hopes to find a way to incorporate the art of music therapy into her future career as a physical therapist.


“I feel like a lot of people think music therapy and art therapy aren’t important, but they definitely do have an influence on physical therapy and getting patients on their feet again,” she said. 


Mupaso plans to attend Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia this fall to earn her doctorate in physical therapy.


She hopes to have some of her artwork published soon in “Inside Out,” Thomas Jefferson University’s annual art and literary journal, and someday even sell a few of her masterpieces.
 

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