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The Art of 'Styrogami'

'Sans Fanfare' by Jules Vitali
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'Sans Fanfare' by Jules Vitali
Jules Vitali
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Jules Vitali

If the definition of a true artist is someone who helps others see beauty in the mundane, then Jules Vitali fits the bill. For the past few years, the retired graphic designer has been sculpting engaging artworks from a material most of us dispose of without thinking -- plastic foam coffee cups.

Vitali first began cutting up plastic foam cups more than 20 years ago to pass the time during business meetings. At first, Vitali tells NPR's Scott Simon, he didn't consider what he was doing to be art. But once he retired in the spring of 2000, Vitali began sculpting away in earnest. "I must have sculpted over 2,000 over my life," Vitali says of his distinctive artworks.

He's also been hard at work trying to get others to see the beauty in what he terms "styrogami."

"Part of my toil in life is convincing people that this is indeed art," Vitali says.

Recently, Vitali has exhibited at various local galleries in his hometown of Freeport, Maine, as well as at Bowdoin College. He has two exhibits planned for Maine this year, and another one for Alaska.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.