Finding your inner environmentalist as an artist can be tough. Shylene Calla is a mosaicist and sculptor who enjoys the challenge of creating works of art using old and recycled things.

Calla’s love for making the old new again is in her genes. She describes herself as being “from a long line of junkyard dog. My family loves garage sales and free stuff [so] I have always loved to work with what I have. Free garbage is easy to find, but not so easy to make art from. It’s a great challenge.”

While travelling in Mexico, Calla spent some time with a Mexican artist who energized her creative spirit and showed her new and interesting styles of art.

“[The artist] taught me enough to come home and be creative. It was actually during this trip to Mexico that I realized I wanted to be a visual artist,” says Calla.

During that trip, she says she felt “inspired by the mosaics and tiles everywhere.” When she came home she immediately began working on her art. At first, she tried to use driftwood she brought back from Mexico but explains that, “the driftwood sculpture never really took off.”

She instead she began focusing on mosaics.

Her main focus is on her project Mosaic the City (www.mosaicthecity.com) which was established in 2003. The goal of this venture is to allow community members to come together and create mosaic art to be displayed in their neighbourhood. Just last year, over 300 community members helped to create the Peace Tile Project, which celebrates peace, the earth and justice.

With Mosaic the City in its eighth year, Calla promises something special for the 10th anniversary in 2013.

She hopes her artwork conveys, “fun, imagination and whimsy. The idea that with very little, you can create something interesting and beautiful. Also, I hope to make people talk, think and really consider all they throw out.”