- Author: Dolores Tropiano
- Category: Arts
- Issue: Jan 2014
ARTIST OF THE MONTH
Alexi DeVilliers could well be standing on the side of the road with a sign that says "Will build robots for food." The Tempe-based artist creates uncanny robot sculptures from empty cans, which he then sells for grocery money so he can fill the stomachs of Valley homeless each week, reusing the cans from his home-cooked meals for more robot material. The food-robot feedback loop has fed hundreds of people at Phoenix parks every Saturday for four years.
"The more people I feed, the more material I have to create sculptures and robots to buy more cans to feed more people," says DeVilliers, 48, who was born in the Bronx and learned to cook Cuban cuisine from his mother. "Because I love to cook and I love to make art, it all feeds into each other – the buying of the food, the leftover cans, the making of the art, the selling of the art and then buying more cans. It is a big circle."
DeVilliers developed an interest in metal and mechanics during shop classes in high school. Later, he began to build small-scale airplanes and jets out of Budweiser beer boxes and Coca-Cola boxes. He eventually came up with the can concept, cutting metal and molding it into funky and functional fans, clocks and even toilet paper holders. His Pothead series features vintage tea pots with peculiar faces. Each piece is an original.
"No two are the same because I don't find piles of the same discarded trash, so every robot has his own personality," remarks DeVilliers, who supports his art career as a commercial maintenance tech. Robot sculptures start at $100 and are available at Method Art Gallery in Scottsdale, Ian Russell Gallery of Fine Art in Prescott and SunDust Gallery in Gilbert.