Recycled Art: Sculptors Jeffrey J. DaCosta and John V. Wilhelm

Last Tuesday I introduced many of you to Heather Freitas, my featured artist for November 2016, who’s Solo Show, Wasteland, opened this First Friday and can be seen throughout November at First Studio at 631 North 1st Avenue. Because she is my featured artist, recycling, and eco-art are my themes this month.

This week I will be talking about Recycled Art and next week I will focus on Eco-Art.

Today, I want to introduce you to two acclaimed and innovative recycled materials sculptors here in Arizona, Jeffrey J. DaCosta and John V. Wilhelm. I could do a whole paragraph on the popularity of using recycled materials to construct artistic masterpieces, and how their usage in art forces us to focus our attention on the need to recycle. I’d rather, however, focus on the pieces created by these two Arizona masters. They speak for themselves and definitely inspire us.

Jeffrey DaCosta is a University of Arizona MFA graduate (2010) in Sculpture. He lectures about sculpture throughout Arizona, and is currently Manager of Public Art, Arts Foundation of Tucson and Southern Arizona. He works in a variety of recycled materials which give his pieces a surprising originality.

His New Trophy (2012), below, is made of over 2,000 florescent pink construction flags, and is a statement about power as derived from hunting culture.


4′ x 6.5′ x 5′.

Icons (2014), below,  is made entirely of reclaimed plastic.

3. DaCosta-New Icons-.jpg

10′ x 4′ x 4′.

Lastly, his Great Exchange 2-Golden Eagle Wings (2015) is made of kevlar and carbon fiber weave.


42″ x 16″ x 4″

He also has hawk wings, not pictured. Like his other pieces, he writes about them conscientiously. “The wing series explores the exchange of material from one form to another. In this case a symbol of American wilderness is converted through technology from flesh and feather to a purposed stagnation.”

He can be found at

John Wilhelm, a Springerville resident, is a self-taught sculptor and artist. He uses mostly “found objects” to create delightful sculptures out of discarded metal objects. Sometimes, he even includes rocks as part of his sculptures. An example is Rock Bass (approximately 12″ long) below.

Here are some other examples of his whimsical garden sculptures:


Cock of the Walk is made of “big bolts, pipe fittings and other industrial castoffs.” Approx. 42″ tall, 80 lbs.


Silver is welded from mostly recycled stainless steel, and even includes spoons, saucepan lids and wrenches. It is 28″ high by 33″ long.

Rise and Shine is made out of a toaster (I think) and other found metal objects.

And finally, my own favorite is Buster, the adorable dachshund that Wilhelm says he made as a wedding gift several years ago.


More of John’s pieces can be viewed at or His website says he is not currently selling his artwork, but he is certainly still showing it!


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