Art exhibit features aluminum creativity

Joe Bugbee and Joe Bugbee

Author. Artist. Photographer. Musician. Furniture maker. Blacksmith. Wait, blacksmith? Yes, Bobby Hansson literally does it all. Hansson will be making a trip to Bowling Green this weekend to host a lecture and workshop entitled “Fine Art of the Tin Can: The Art of the Overlooked.”

Hansson’s work has been featured at the American Craft Museum, the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., and the Oakland Museum.

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Hansson has been configuring and manipulating tin cans into works of art for more than 40 years. The reason Hansson has been so fascinated with cans is due to his upbringing during the ration-conscious World War II era, where wasting a can was not an option.

“Growing up during that time, I learned to see beyond the intended use (of the can),” Hansson, 66, said. “If you can learn to see beyond the can just being a can, you’ll have a lot of fun.” Hansson, does not just limit tin cans to art work, however. He has converted the cans into toys, instruments and household items like measuring cups. As for instruments, Hansson usually makes horns, trumpets and bugles. Once he created a “canjo,” the tin-can cousin of a banjo.

Remember singing “Amazing Grace” in church many, many Sundays ago? Well, Hansson composed his own version of that timeless classic, called “I’m Saving Waste”– a number featuring Hansson singing with his canjo.

“It’s a song about how much we, as a society, waste today, which is a ludicrous amount. This song is about using what we have, more than once,” Hansson said.

In his book “The Fine Art of the Tin Can,” which is in its second printing, he shows in “vivid” detail, how many different objects can be made from tin cans.

“My editor told me that only about 10 to 15 things could be made from tin cans, so I called some friends, who are familiar with tin cans, and the next thing I knew, we had over 300 different objects from cans. It was a fun project to put together,” Hansson said.

When he’s not working with tin cans, Hansson spends much of his spare time making furniture for his farmhouse in Rising Sun, Maryland, with his wife Maggie. He said that since he couldn’t afford to buy furniture when he was younger, he just decided to make his own.

“It’s fun and it gives me the illusion that I’m self-sufficient, which is comforting,” Hansson said.

I think it’s important to have fun with your work,” he said. “Why spend all of your life thinking of your work as work? This kind of thing frees me up to be a little silly, which there is nothing wrong with.”

The lecture, “Fine Art of the Tin Can: The Art of the Overlooked,” will be today at 7 p.m. The workshop will also be today, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and tomorrow at the same time. These sessions will be held in the Fine Arts Center, and are free to the public.