Vincent Navarro made the news a few years back as an up and coming young artist who uses coffee grounds for making art – not stains, or beans, as other niche artists have been known to do, but grounds, the oft-overlooked aftermath of the global coffee trade.
The news broke only a few days ago that he has died, and the world lost another young, talented artist, who was also a passionate environmentalist. The Kicker Daily article I’ve linked here says he got into coffee art as a way of helping prevent the buildup of garbage in Baguio’s landfills. (One imagines that in the northern Philippines’ coffee-growing regions, agricultural garbage is a problem.)
His frequent subjects: the coffee farmers of Benguet, the unsung heroes of the industry. Coffee farmed in the Philippine highlands is often organic, relying mainly on the labors and traditional wisdom of the farmers, yet there is little effort made to know them personally and to highlight their struggles.
Coffee grounds are used to make many things, but art is perhaps one of its least popular uses. Navarro was able to take an environmentally friendly material and transform it into a lasting, beautiful way to immortalize a marginalized group.
I’m still researching other uses of coffee grounds myself… I don’t generate a lot of them, but they amount to a lot over time. It feels like I can still do my part in conserving nature and making sure the grounds don’t go to waste… but since I am not very good at art, I may need to find other ways.
My love for coffee and my love for art come together in works by artists like Navarro. Here’s to the hope that his works will be remembered for a long time, and that the messages he embedded in them will reach more people all over the world.
Visual artist Vincent Navarro based in Baguio City died last February 16 at the age of 23 The artist allegedly died due to complications after undergoing surgery He is known for using coffee grounds in a portrait series of Benguet coffee farmers