Portuguese artist Bordalo II to create rooster sculpture from recycled trash in New Bedford

Portuguese artist Bordalo II to create rooster sculpture from recycled trash in New Bedford

Lurdes C. da Silva

O Jornal, The Herald News, Published April 15, 2024
Full article HERE.
Re-published via The Portugal News, May 7, 2024


NEW BEDFORD — World-renowned for his unique animal creations made with discarded materials, which convey powerful environmental messages, Portuguese street artist Bordalo II is working on a sculpture called “Plastic Rooster” to be installed in the heart of downtown New Bedford.

The colorful sculpture will be unveiled June 14 on the green space of the New Bedford YMCA at Union Street and North 2nd Street as part of  “TRANSFORM: Reduce, Revive, Reimagine,” a free public art series presented by the Massachusetts Design Art and Technology Institute (DATMA).

The rooster was chosen as a common symbol of Portugal, since New Bedford has a high concentration of Portuguese-Americans.

“It was one of the animals suggested by DATMA and it seemed interesting to me,” Bordalo II told O Jornal. “It’s an animal I have never done before, and it has a peculiar figure that works well in full body. The association with the Portuguese community wasn’t immediate, but I’m happy if it has a positive impact on that community.”

Measuring approximately 12 feet long, 9 feet wide and 15 feet tall, the sculpture will be created out of repurposed waste materials from the SouthCoast region.

Identifying himself as an “artivist,” Bordalo II often centers his artwork around the concepts of excessive production and consumption, using discarded materials such as old car parts, scrap metal and plastic waste to sculpt striking and thought-provoking animal portraits.

“I’ve been using art to express myself since I was very young,” he said. “At a certain point, I realized that my art could and should reflect my environmental and social concerns and that I should take advantage of the platform I have to draw attention to these issues.”

Bordalo II said his artwork seeks to draw attention to issues and behaviors that compromise the well-being of all species on Earth, including humans.

“We consume too much, recycle too little, invest too little in energy transition,” he said. “We are increasingly distanced from nature, and this is reflected in the lack of respect and empathy we have for other species — flora and fauna. Human beings, as just one of the thousands of species that inhabit this planet, behave in ways that jeopardize the survival of all others. No other animal has such a negative impact on nature. We urgently need to change this.”

“Plastic Rooster” will be created together with local landfill management departments and 11th grade Metal Fabrication students from the Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School.

“I’m very happy to be able to include the youth community in this project and in my work,” Bordalo II said. “Education is a fundamental aspect of the evolution of society and being able to contribute to this practical learning is great. I am also pleased to see the commitment and enthusiasm they’ve put into this project.”

Warley Williams III, principal of the Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School, said this partnership with DATMA has been nothing short of extraordinary.

“Since 2021, our students have been involved in fabricating outdoor displays, but this year’s project is truly groundbreaking,” he said in a prepared statement. “Working alongside an internationally acclaimed artist and a professional engineer on a semi-permanent sculpture right from the start is an unparalleled opportunity. This collaboration not only enriches our students’ educational experience but also contributes to the vibrant cultural landscape of New Bedford.”

On display through 2029, the sculpture is intended to be explored, interacted with, and used as a backdrop for gathering and events.

“Technology and the arts are intersecting in the SouthCoast more than ever, which is exactly what inspires my organization,” said Lindsay Mis, the executive director of DATMA in a prepared statement. “We’re excited to help tell New Bedford’s story through our varied exhibitions with a well-known international artist while partnering with incredibly talented local youths and local organizations. It’s a collaborative effort from all sides and I am proud to see our community and industries working together in looking towards the future through a resourceful and creative lens.”