Artist Spotlight: Helen Mary Vanston Marek

Artist Spotlight: Helen Mary Vanston Marek


Each month, we feature incredible creatives in the Austin community! We are excited to highlight reuse artist and ACR market vendor, Helen Mary V. Marek! We are blown away by her ability to transform everyday “trash” materials into colorful and unique artwork. Read more about her background and see some of her incredible creations below!


When did you start creating art?
I’ve created art as long as I can remember and have always been intrigued with creating art from unconventional materials. When I was 8 or 9 my parents gave me my first art book which was called Creating Art from Anything. A great introduction to using repurposed items in art.


“Technology in Blue” (2017)

Acrylic on Canvas Boards, beads, gears, misc items


What is your preferred medium?
I use a lot of different materials including beads, stones, sticks, and misc. found items – often incorporated with more traditional canvases. Recently I’ve expanded to more three dimensional items like acrylic florescent light tubes and upcycled drink bottles.


“Texas Bluebonnets – A New View” (2021)

Acrylic tubes, upcycled water bottles, string, beads


What drives your creative spirit?
I look for beauty all around me and like to share that with others. I’m educated/trained as a graphic designer, so much of my professional job involves computer work — which I enjoy — but I also seek opportunities to be more tactile in my decorative and wearable art.


Rock Necklaces (2018)

Stones, beads, string


How has your art adapted during the pandemic?
I’ve used more recyclables mixed with natural elements in my art. I’ve participated in Big Medium’s EAST Austin Studio Tours since 2017, but because of the pandemic, in 2020, Big Medium made the tour all virtual or outside exhibits and expanded it throughout Austin and 15 miles from the Capitol. My home in Pflugerville is just under 15 miles from the Capitol, so I decided to display art in my yard. “Elements of Nature: The Grandeur of the Unexpected” consisted of several new pieces I created using a mixture of natural and human-made items hanging in the trees – including a triple mobile made using small bottles I got at AST — all accompanied by a video of blowing grasses projected on my garage door. With the help of my husband and our sons, I also redid much of the front landscaping using arranged stones and repurposed items like old solar light globes and beautiful blue bottles that had been in the garage for years!

“Grove of Grandeur” (2019)

Acrylic tubes, beads, string


How does reuse play a part in your art?
Several years ago I started creating jewelry using beads, shells, stones, charms, etc. Some are new items, but many are from old necklaces from my own collection or from friends, Goodwill, or garage sales … and ACR. I expanded on the jewelry by incorporating beads onto my acrylic abstract paintings, and then onto more sculptural pieces created using acrylic tubes. Then I started using water and soda bottles. I like the idea of reusing something that is destined to end up in the landfill or (hopefully) recycled into other plastic and making it into something beautiful instead. 8 million tons of plastic bottles are added to our oceans each year – I’m doing my tiny part to try to reduce that!


“Repurposeful Waves” (2021)

Mixed Media: “Waves” are upcycled soda bottles. “Sand” below has shells, stones, etc.  


What compels you to donate to ACR?
I am a collector/keeper and a bit of a “pack-rat!” I have a hard time letting go of things – especially things that may have other purposes. One of the things I love about ACR is that I know when I do donate items, they are likely to be used by someone else!


Windchimes (2021)

6” Plastic tubes, chandelier crystals, metal builder samples, parts from old solar lights


Do you have a favorite ACR find? What did you do with it?
Two items:
1: In Fall 2020, I purchased a case of small brown glass bottles that I used to create a triple mobile called “Captured Keepsakes.” Each bottle holds items such as beads, trinkets, tiny paper for notes, etc. Some are sealed and others are open. Some are empty. They hang from three beaded circles on a tree outside. When the wind blows, they make a soft clanking sound.
2: Another favorite find are some thick plastic tubes that are about 6” long and ½” in diameter. I have no idea what they were used for originally, but I’ve used them for windchimes and have some other ideas.
It’s fun to find odd items and create something beautiful and interesting using the treasures!


“Captured Keepsakes” (2020)

Glass bottles, beads, wire, fruit mesh bags


Where can we find out more about your art?
Please visit my webpage at, Instagram @vanmarek_helenmary/, and Facebook: VanMarekDesign
I’m also the director of Art 84, a non-profit that presents impactful original art, music, and dance through technology, media, and events:, Instagram, FB, Twitter: art84gallery



  • Melanie Muenchinger | Aug 12,2021

    Very cool stuff! Those windchimes are fabulous! Congrats on the spotlight!

  • Elizabeth Yevich | Aug 13,2021


  • 2005 Wheless Lane, Austin, TX 78723
    Tel: (512) 375-3041