Used chewing gum is pretty gross, but after it has been abandoned on the sidewalk, it eventually becomes part of the street, unseen and forgotten. British artist Ben Wilson manages to bring attention back to that squished piece of gum by making it something new.
, he has been painting miniature scenes onto the pieces of forgotten gum that line city sidewalks. The brightly colored works of art make it impossible to ignore. Wilson likes this unusual medium because it takes something disgusting and makes it interesting. He can't get in any trouble for vandalism because he's painting right on the gum, not the street. "If you can take something that was thrown away and make it into something else, it's exciting," Wilson told the BBC.
To make these tiny paintings, Wilson first finds a particularly old piece with no moisture left in it. Then he heats it up and covers it with a lacquer; this way the art won't melt in the hot weather.
Wilson has a lot of fans and takes commissions. The Royal Society of Chemistry even requested paintings of the 118 known elements. Recently, his work was featured in an exhibit at The Gallery at Munro House in Leeds, England. "With the requests people open up and reveal something about their lives—I am still quite amazed about the way it happens. It allows people to reflect aspects of their lives," Wilson told Wallflower Dispatches.