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Everybody Poops, But These Artists Made It Into Masterpieces

Global Poop | Photo by I Heart Poop via Facebook

Who is to say you can’t make innovative artwork from excrement? Poop-art is having a moment, with the stinky medium breaking wind - I mean ground - in galleries across the United States.

Though this trend may seem like a shitty idea, artists have a legacy of using human and animal waste as an alternative to more traditional techniques. Allow me to “stool” you (ha) on some poop-related art history. Piero Manzoni, a contemporary artist known for his work with turds, canned his own fecal matter and christened the final product “artist’s shit” during the 1960s. In the 1990s, Chris Olili made various paintings from elephant dung. And in recent years, artists in the California Bay area entitled an entire gallery show, “I Poop You” (the theme of the exhibition doesn’t need to be further explained).

Turning up your nose at the idea of poop-art, or curious to see more? Below, is a list of seven gloriously challenging artistic masterpieces involving poo.

Mark Zuckerberg rendered from poop | Photo via globalgraphica.com

1. Artist KATSU has been making waves in recent weeks with a portrait of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg painted from feces. While the Internet entrepreneur is not generally thought of as the world’s most beloved individual, being painted from poo is a pretty literal way for KATSU to emphasize his true thoughts towards Zuckerberg - he’s crap!

Gold Poo by “Gold Poo” | Photo via Roadtrippers.com

2. Bedazzled dog feces are an emerging new art form in Brooklyn, New York. A number of gold glittered covered dog poop have been found along the sidewalk in the outer-borough. Spray painted poop has also been spotted, and the artist "Gold Poo” is claiming responsibility for these gilded masterpieces. For all those uncollected landmines sprinkled throughout New York City streets, why not add a little glitter to the droppings?

I Poop You! Pop art made from colored turds | Photo via CityLab.com

3. “I Poop You,” an exhibit dedicated to and made from poop, opened in 2013. The one-night show was housed in the Mission district of San Francisco. Work included t-shirts and women’s underthings emblazoned with poo piles, nameplates for toilet-paper rolls, and a feculent rendering of Che Guevara. (Hint for lovers - Gift Idea! Valentine’s Day is coming up!)

Artist’s Shit | Photo via wewastetime.com

4. The conceptual artist Piero Manzoni is well known for his poop. He preserved 90 tin cans worth of his own waste in 1961, priced at its weight in gold. Originally marked for $37, when gold prices fluctuated in 2007, Manzoni’s “work” skyrocketed up to $181,374. And who is to call poo “waste?”

Glitter pills for sparkle in the toilet | Photo via metro.co.uk

5. In the vein of making “your innermost parts into chambers of wealth,” artist Tobias Wong has created a pill that turns your bowel movements into glittering, gold nuggets. This weird conflation of luxury and consumerism is part of a collected called INDULGENCE that was commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art 2005. The question remains: Would you pop a pill to get gold poop? (I feel as if it may be toxic…)

Untitled (Urinal)| Photo via maryboonegallery

6. Sensationalist artist Terence Koh purported selling his own gold-painted excrement for $500,000. And it isn’t the first time Koh’s mind has been in the gutter. The insouciant artist created Untitled (Urinal), a piece that spanned 24 feet. I saw this work in person during its 2008 unveiling, and attendees were invited to use the giant marble urinal to relieve themselves from their free gallery wine. While I didn’t actually see anyone take Koh up on this offer, there were a lot of suggestive photos… only naturally!

Cat portraits - made from dyed feces | Photo via vgitanabastet

7. The ultimate cat lady, New York East Village Native, Siobhan Meow (AMAZING NAME!), has been creating murals of cats since the mid-nineties using a combination of fur, urine, and you guessed it, poop, for her portraits of her many felines (she owned more than 100). It makes sense that with as many animals as Ms. Meow had roaming about, she would use their defecation for some unusual purposes. Cheers, for thinking outside of the litter box!

Whether you think that poop-art is fun and satirical, the pinnacle of a nine-year-old boys creativeness, or a combination of both, there is no denying that doodie is ending up in more places than the toilet and fart jokes. So, the relevance of me diving into a pile of “shitty” art? Beside expanding consideration of what substances can be used in lieu of paint, I hope we global citizens can expand our attention on defecation as well as sanitation. While poop doesn’t necessarily add value to creative work, it does have serious implications for people without ability to use latrines (a.k.a. toilets). So, enjoy your bathroom, and respect your poop. For some artists, it’s been worth its price in gold!

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Kathleen Ebbitt