For Artist Gwyneth Leech, Coffee Cups are the Perfect Medium

Gwyneth Leech, at far right, is creating coffee cup art in the Flatiron window gallery through the end of the year.

NEW YORK—Yesterday I was walking by the Flatiron building and there was a woman sitting in the window drawing on countless cups.

Rather than throwing away or recycling used coffee cups, artist Gwyneth Leech turns them into canvases. She calls it “up-cycling.” I asked her what that meant, and she defined it as taking an item that has already served its intended purpose and creating something beautiful out of it.

Leech has chosen a unique medium for her work and her current studio is also innovative. Since September 19, she has been drawing in the Flatiron Prow Art Space.

Hundreds of her completed cups hang in the window gallery and for three hours a day she continues to pen intricate patterns in an array of colors while passersby observe. The project is called “Hypergraphia: The Cup Drawings.” It is not really performance art, but it is an intriguing display.

Leech is beautifying used coffee and other hot-beverage cups Tuesday through Saturday, from 11 am to 2 pm, until Dec. 31, 2011, and documenting the project here.

All photos by Arts Observer

The graphic drawings may be black and white or bursting with color and include intricate patterns, references to flora and fauna, cityscapes and abstract aerial marsh views.

Leech uses a variety of pens, inks, oil and acrylic paints to draw on the cups and then seals the designs with an encaustic or polymer varnish with UV-protection.

Used hot-beverage cups serve as Leech’s canvas. On her website she says, “I wash and dry them and record on the bottom the date, place and occasion, as well as the drink that was consumed.”

There are 2 comments

  1. Tony Lloyd

    I was just over-awed by the simplicity, complexity, beauty and colour of this art installation at the Flatiron Building whilst on holiday in NYC in late October from my school in Cardiff, Wales.

    So much so, that I am asking our pupils to collect used 450ml yoghurt pots, to create a similar exhibition in our school. Thank you so much – ‘Diolch’, in Welsh, Gwyneth (a good Welsh name) for the inspiration.

    How can I post a link to my Facebook page ?

    Tony Lloyd,
    A primary school Art & Design teacher
    Cardiff, Wales

  2. Gwyneth Leech

    Thank you for the lovely post about Hypergraphia at the Flatiron!
    The installation continues to expand through December 31st as I add more cups.
    Stop by again and see it progress.

    All best,


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