Aspiring Artist Turns Trash to Treasure

Girl with her Art

Cypress Bay High School junior Dani Cerutti has two passions – creating beautiful works of art and helping save the environment. By combining the two, she has been able to draw attention to the importance of environmental stewardship and earned herself the top prize at a county-wide art show. Dani’s project, Seals Don’t Smoke, was named Best in Show at the Broward Art Guild Youth Exhibit.  

While participating in a Fort Lauderdale Beach Sweep clean-up day, Dani was shocked by the amount of cigarette butts in the sand. “In only a couple hours, we’d collected enough cigarette butts to fill a five-gallon bucket. Seeing this helped spark ideas and I knew I could make something impactful with the butts, given the crazy amount of them.”

art piece

It took her about two months to complete Seals Don’t Smoke. She painstakingly sorted then glued over 1,500 cigarette butts to create the image of a seal sitting on a shoreline.

“I hope that my art makes people realize just how big of an issue beach pollution is. I hope it causes people to stop for a moment and think about how much we really are hurting the Earth,” shares Dani. “The amount of trash we leave behind on a daily basis is insane, and the fact that so much of it lands on the beach is definitely something we should pay attention to. Most importantly, I hope my art inspires people to take initiative themselves and to want to do something about the issues going on.”

Dani has become quite an artistic activist. She has created two other cigarette butt art pieces. “Both are large canvases with words formed from the cigarette butts. One reads Save Our Earth and the other Save Our Beach.”

She has also been experimenting with other mixed media pieces using miscellaneous trash she found on the beach. “The most interesting include Barbie heads, lighters, deodorant sticks and a syringe,” notes Dani. “In the middle of the piece it says Beach Day out of water bottle caps.”

While Dani has chosen to use her artistic talents to spread environmental awareness messages, she is hoping others will see it and get inspired to act themselves. “I want people to see my art and get involved in causes that they feel passionate about. Of course, I want people to gain motivation to help with the beach pollution issues, and to do anything they can to help out. It’s easy to talk about wanting to help or start a project, but it’s another thing to actually do so. I want my artwork to help give people a push in the right direction.”