Gülnur Özdağlar is a practicing architect and artist whose intent is to transform things that people discard into works of art that are beautiful and compelling enough to be worn or enjoyed in formal exhibitions. The Last Reef is a translucent sculpture suspended from the ceiling that gives viewers the sense of being underwater looking up at a complex aquatic organism. Her process of “upcycling” subjects PET bottles—ranging in size from 16 ounces to five gallons—to highly expressive applications of heat, drilling, cutting, and shredding to evoke the appendages and diaphanous body structures of various forms of sea life. The work unites the scales of reef structures, jellyfish, and microorganisms like plankton and algae, reminding us of the life forms that are threatened by those bottles that end up discarded rather than recycled or otherwise reused.
The Last Reef, 2021; plastic bottles, fishing line, and steel; courtesy of the artist
Gülnur Özdağlar was a practicing architect for more than 20 years before pursuing art and design. Her art practice is grounded in a belief in upcycling and the “karmic compensation” of materials. Since 2008, she has transformed plastic bottles into wearable jewelry and decorative objects of remarkable beauty.