Left: George Washington's step-granddaughter, Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis. Right: William Tecumseh Sherman.

One man's trash is artist Kim Alsbrooks' future masterpiece. The Philadelphia-based Alsbrooks has been collecting flattened cans to serve as the canvas for her historical portrait series, “My White Trash Family,” since 2004.

While living in her native South Carolina, Alsbrooks wanted to create works that questioned the sentimentality she saw pervading views of history in Charleston. So she began juxtaposing elegant portraits once painted on ivory with discarded cans of PBR. Alsbrook is steadfastly committed to only using cans she finds pre-crushed out in the world, with no wrinkles that would affect the visages of her 17th and 18th century subjects.

Jefferson Davis


Her subjects range from the famous (Jefferson Davis) to obscure historical figures (Elisabeth Louise Vigee-Lebrun, a fashionable portrait artist in 18th century France) to the virtually unknown (while Alsbrooks tries to identify her subjects with the help of the Library Company of Philadelphia, she occasionally has to invent fictional names for them).

From a self-portrait of Elisabeth Louise Vigee-Lebrun, a French painter in the 18th century.

Discarded Budweiser cans make for particularly good backdrops for portraits.

Julia Ingam

Many of the artist's most recent portraits are on sale through the Snyderman-Works Gallery in Philadelphia. See her blog for more beautiful trash.

[h/t: Colossal]

All images courtesy Kim Alsbrooks.