It is a process that takes plenty of time and patience. Artist Willie Cole created a chandelier out of 3,000 recycled water bottles, each with an image of the Buddha printed on a plastic sheet inside.

"I had a dream about a chandelier that had a Buddha in every bottle, so my first chandelier was a Buddha chandelier, and it's actually my favorite," Cole said.

What You Need To Know

  • Four new chandeliers made from recycled water bottles are on display on 69th and 70th streets on the Upper East Side
  • They are created by artist Willie Cole, who uses recycled items to create works of art  

  • Cole created the pieces while working as an artist-in-residence at Express Newark, which is supported by Rutgers University-Newark  

  • Around 9,000 bottles were used to create the four pieces, which are on display for six months

He added that the Buddhas are printed in special ink so they can survive the weather.

Express Newark is a center for socially engaged art and design supported by Rutgers University-Newark. Cole received assistance along the way from students and other artists in the community where he grew up.

"This work that we have here today has been inspired by the city of Newark and the water crisis that we had here a few years back, and this idea of turning something that is a problem into something that is poetic and beautiful art," said Salamishah Tillet, the director of Express Newark.

Last week, the chandelier and three others were installed on Park Avenue at 69th and 70th streets. The sculptures were commissioned by the Fund for Park Avenue and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.

In all, there were 9,000 recycled water bottles used. Cole was assisted by a crew from JRAL, a public art contracting company based in New Jersey. 

Cole is a popular artist, with his work represented in collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art. He says having his work on busy Park Avenue for the next six months allows people to engage with it, without having to visit a museum or a gallery.

"I feel that I am reborn as of today, to see these out of the studio and make space for something new," Cole said.