Larry’s Coffee Recognizes Vik Muniz As An Artist On A Mission

Larry’s Coffee believes that one cup of coffee can spark great conversations and be a power to do good. It’s that belief that leads Larry’s Coffee to introduce one-of-kind artists who play distinctive roles across the globe and even in our community that inspire goodness. Today we want to introduce you to Brazilian-American artist Vik Muniz.  

Art is Art - But What About Dirt?

When you think about art, most people think about paintings, photography, and anything hand-created. While that is true, the depth of creation and inspiration can come from anything and anywhere. Think sugar, dirt, magazine clippings, lint from the dryer, coffee grounds and anything from the junk drawer. The possibilities are endless for Vik Muniz, photographer, sculptor, and conceptual artist who creates imagery from anything that can and cannot be imagined. 


The Shot that Brought Vik Muniz to America

Born in 1961, Vik Muniz is best known for his complex photographic works. At the age of seven he began drawing compulsively in notebooks even though he had not yet learned to write, and by age 14, he was fixing televisions to earn a wage. He continued to draw in his free time when a professor saw his drawings and encouraged him to participate in arts festivals, where eventually he won a partial scholarship to study drawing and sculpture at a Brazilian academy.  By 1980 he found work at a small advertising company and remained there until an unfortunate day in 1983 when Muniz was accidentally shot in the leg while helping to break up a fight.  The shooter begged Muniz not to press charges in exchange for a large sum of money. Muniz saw this as his ticket to America and accepted the bribe without hesitation.


On The Fast Track To Trash

Fast forward to 1998, Muniz had his first solo exhibition at a major photography museum in New York. Drawing inspiration from Rembrandt and Vermeer, Muniz’s earthwork photographs consisted of random images of weird and eclectic objects such as jelly, toys, electrical outlets, a clothes hanger, scissors, and a pipe. Thriving from his desire to attain the same essence of mystery as artists before his time, his out-of-the-ordinary techniques had him dangling from a helicopter before he encountered his most famous work with trash in his Pictures of Garbage series in 2010. This world-famous series was the result of working for three years with garbage pickers at Jardim Gramacho in Rio de Janeiro, known as one of the world’s largest trash dumps. 


More Creations From Extreme Garbage

Few of us see garbage as anything more than a pile of trash.  But Muniz has a different lens. His decision to focus time on garbage was born out of his desire to work with a material that tends to become invisible. People do everything to hide it and it’s one reason most landfills are in remote locations to keep it from being offensive to both sight and smell. 


To create his Pictures of Junk and Pictures of Garbage series Muniz placed his camera high on a platform raised by a crane above a warehouse floor. Using the open floor space below as his canvas, he arranged raw materials, trash, and debris into sculptural compositions that re-created mythological scenes and famous paintings as viewed from the lens of his camera from a few stories above. As in Pictures of Garbage, the raw materials he uses are often objects found in most every household. He even created a yummy reproduction of the ‘Mona Lisa’ using only peanut butter and strawberry jam, and Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe portrait was recreated using only chocolate sauce.   


What About Mom

Muniz mentioned in several interviews that he creates his art in hopes that others are inspired to take action to create a better world in which to live. He was quoted to say that if his mother doesn’t understand, enjoy, or is inspired by his creations, then he doesn’t think that anyone else will be inspired either. 


It’s evident that Vik Muniz has been inspired since a young boy growing up in Brazil.   He achieved fame in his home country with his garbage-inspired art and is affectionately known as ‘Vik’ in his home country.  After relocating to the United States, Vik considers himself an American artist but has a heart for doing what is right and inspiring the same compassion in others. Concentrated in Rio de Janerio, Vik has funded education and non-profit training programs beyond the art world to provide necessary resources for street children in Brazil. 


More About Artists on a Mission 

Inspired by generosity, goodness, and desire to make the world a better place, Larry’s Coffee is honored to recognize the inspiration and purposeful art of Vik Muniz. According to Larry at Larry’s Coffee, “goodness for our world, our planet, and our communities is only a sip of coffee from inspiring great conversations.” Believing business can be a force for good and Larry’s Coffee is on a mission to prove business can be a source of change and greatness in the world.  


Larry’s Coffee is also a founding member of Cooperative Coffees, a group of independent coffee roasters importing coffee directly from farmers to define a higher standard of partnership and fairness. We aim to make choices with consequences that are good for our local community, our animal friends, and our one-and-only planet. Larry’s Coffee believes in leading by doing and being part of a global movement that aims to make businesses a powerful force for good. 


For the freshest roasts and organically-sourced coffee from small family farmers, Larry’s Coffee can be found at the storefront at 1507 Gavin Street in Raleigh, or at these fine coffee retailers throughout the southeast. Don’t forget to shop online, too, at  

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