Hunter Levinsohn and friend Sarah Harlow.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect when Hunter Levinsohn invited me to her cigarette art exhibit entitled "Ground Cover/Cover Up." I just couldn't fathom how someone could turn old cigarette butts into art. Whatever I expected, it wasn't what I got.

Ah, the creative mind is a wonderful thing, and Hunter's was at its most creative when she came up with the ideas for this exhibit. Making art from found objects is her specialty. The brightly colored and intricately designed pieces of art on display at Chapel Hill Town Hall will have you asking "How on earth did she ever think up that?"


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Compost Mentis/Non-compost Mentis Sophisticated, Cool and With-it I Sophisticated, Cool and With-it II

Hunter's vision of cigarette butts as art began as she walked around the University Mall parking lot. She says she has always been one who would notice the ground before she would look up at the sky or around at walls. This microcosmic observation led her to become acutely aware of of all things underfoot.

For her exhibit at the Botanical Gardens in the fall of 2001, this became the source of a nine piece exhibit of her pieces with "Compost Mentis/Non-compost Mentis" as the focal point. This display of natural and man-made materials in contrast shows us how trashy society is.

Levinsohn found herself collecting so many cigarette butts that she found it necessary to limit the amount she would collect. What initially was a one pack limit quickly climbed to two, then three packs per forage. Cigarette butts are everywhere and never biodegrade, at least not in our lifetime. There was never a shortage of material.

A Map of My Neighborhood It's a Game Altar to Addiction: in Health and in Sickness Til Death do Us Part Annie's Ashes

In fact, the numbers grew at such an astronomical rate so quickly that Hunter set about collecting a mile of butts. Her original intention was to string the butts from a monofilament, but she soon realized she would end up with a tangled mess.

Instead she took the butts and began using them to make bricks, each consisting of 1,000 butts. "Sacred Butts" uses a total of 45,000 cigarette butts made into 45 bricks. Levinsohn covers each brick with a different kind of paper. The bricks sit on a black, wooden, coffin style box, adorned with three cigarette strips. The pleated paper butt-erflies (as named by Hunter's brother) flying up the gauze in the background are made from cigarette packs. Levinsohn says butterflies signify souls of the dead in the Incan culture.

Sacred Butts uses a total of 45,000 cigarette butts made into 45 bricks of 1,000 butts. Hunter covers each brick with a different kind of paper. The bricks sit on a black, wooden, coffin style box, adorned with three cigarette strips. The pleated paper butt-erflies flying up the gauze in the background are made from cigarette packs. Watermelon Shoes and assorted pins and necklaces Another Pack of Camels The angler Fish: a Paradigm for Addiction

Hunter's exhibit will be on display through August at Chapel Hill Town Hall on Airport Road.


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