10-year-old makes portrait of NBA legend using recycled materials

10-year-old makes portrait of NBA legend using recycled materials
Ashlyn Nelson shows off a portrait she made of Kobe Bryant using a mix of art supplies and recycled materials. (Source: NBC12)

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WWBT) - From clothespins to rocks, feathers or even lego pieces, what may look like everyday objects to the average person is a world of possibilities for Ashlyn Nelson.

The 10-year-old from Chesterfield uses items found around her home to breathe life into art. She has a rolling art shelf full of supplies and other random items she uses to facilitate her craft.

She discovered her talent after attending an art camp in Richmond over the summer.

“My teacher told the whole class we were doing an art project where we could pick any famous person we wanted to and I chose Aretha Franklin,” said Ashlyn.

Ashlyn Nelson's first recycled art portrait was depicted Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin. Nelson's success with this portrait inspired her to continue pursuing the art form
Ashlyn Nelson's first recycled art portrait was depicted Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin. Nelson's success with this portrait inspired her to continue pursuing the art form (Source: NBC12)

The medium is called recycled art, but when you see Ashlyns finished product you might call it a masterpiece.

“If you’re far away it looks really cool, but when you get close you can see all the materials that I used, like the buttons to different colored animals and puffball,” Ashlyn said about the materials she uses.

Ashlyn continues pursuing the art form after the summer camp because of how good her first piece came out and the encouragement from her friends. Now the 10-year-old specializes in portraits of famous figures.

With some help from her mother, Ashlyn finds a large image of the subject she wants to create and then traces their silhouette.

“They just mean a lot and they’ve changed the world,” said Ashlyn.

From there she glues down thousands of household items in every color on the spectrums wherever she can fit them, like an artist until her masterpiece is finished.

Since her first Aretha Portrait, Ashlyn completed another, this time of famed gymnast and Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles.

Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles was the subject of Ashlyn Nelson's second recycled art portrait. Nelson says each portrait takes her about two weeks to complete.
Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles was the subject of Ashlyn Nelson's second recycled art portrait. Nelson says each portrait takes her about two weeks to complete. (Source: NBC12)

However, nearly a month after the tragic death of NBA legend Kobe Byant, his daughter Gianna and seven others; the 10-year-old and basketball fan knew exactly who the subject of her third piece should be.

“I felt like Kobe was one of my teammates and I lost one of my teammates,” said Ashlyn. “He was so meaningful to everyone and he changed so many lives, he was a superstar.”

It took Ashlyn over two weeks to complete the portrait. She used everything from mini pom-poms, beads and foam cutouts to achieve every detail of the basketball legend.

“I even used some G-I-Joe dudes for the background,” said Ashlyn.

Ashlyn plans to gift the portrait to her dad who was a big fan of the retired Lakers star.

“I’m going to surprise my dad and hang it up in the man cave because he was really hurt when Kobe died,” said Ashlyn. “I want to remind him that Kobe is still here with him.”

Ashlyn hopes that when people see her artwork they are reminded that while legends may come and go they’ll never be forgotten.

10-year-old Ashlyn Nelson shows off the portrait she made of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, using a mixture of art supplies and recycled materials.
10-year-old Ashlyn Nelson shows off the portrait she made of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, using a mixture of art supplies and recycled materials. (Source: NBC12)

A memorial for Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna is this Monday, Feb. 24, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

The Staples Center is where Kobe played his entire NBA career and Feb. 24 is also symbolic because it commemorates the basketball jersey numbers of both Kobe and his daughter Gianna.

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