This Sculptor’s Pop Art-Inspired Creations Breathe New Life Into Waste

Artist Liliana Marquez turns leftover architecture samples into geometric works of art.

Thanks Colors, mixed wood and rubber flooring samples, $2,200, / Courtesy photo

Liliana Marquez’s Stoughton studio overflows with architecture samples, including stacks of wood and strips of rubber flooring littering the table. Rather than head for the landfill, these surplus materials—which Marquez reclaims from local architects and interior designers—compose her abstract, 3-D works of art. “I’d need to have another life to be able to use everything I have in my studio,” she says with a laugh.

Born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, Marquez studied art and design at the Caracas Institute of Design and found inspiration in the likes of Alejandro Otero, Mercedes Pardo, and Carlos Cruz-Diez—abstract artists whose geometric influences are evident in Marquez’s work. In 2009, after moving to the United States, a visit to a reclaim shop in Lynn ignited her passion for repurposing the leftover fragments. “It opened my eyes about architecture samples,” she says. “Each one [is] a little piece of art.”

What followed was the inception of Marquez’s signature style: pop art–inspired sculptures that breathe new life into what was once waste. Take her piece Thanks Colors, for example. Mixed strips of colorful rubber flooring sit evenly spaced atop seven pieces of wood in various finishes, creating an optical-illusion-esque composition. “The materials are out there,” she says of the plentiful samples, which abound from an era of mass production and Boston’s building boom. All they require is some creativity. “They have color, texture, everything,” she notes. “They feel alive.”

Thanks Colors, mixed wood and rubber flooring samples, $2,200, / Courtesy photo