Since its creation in 1915, the Coca-Cola contour bottle has become one of the most recognizable objects in the world. Noted industrial designer Raymond Loewy referred to it as the “perfect liquid wrapper,” and a new exhibit at the World of Coca-Cola reveals why the iconic bottle is also the perfect canvas for one-of-a-kind artwork.

The “10 Artists, 10 Bottles” exhibit, which opened May 19, features the work of 10 Atlanta artists who were invited to transform 4-ft. sculpted Coke bottles into unique pieces expressing their diverse styles.

Coca-Cola shares a hometown with many incredibly talented artists,” said Russell Jacobs, general manager, World of Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola Stores. “This exhibit was commissioned to celebrate the 10th anniversary of World of Coca-Cola at Pemberton Place, and it also offers up a taste of local talent, celebrating the work of the incredible creatives who call Atlanta home.”

The collection of larger-than-life bottle art incorporates a range of styles and media, from contemporary painting torecycled glass bottles and more. The exhibit is on display in the Pop Culture Gallery until May 2018. Before checking out the gallery for yourself, get to know the 10 artists behind the bottles and their sources of inspiration here:


Demone Phelps, 'untitled'

Painting has always seemed like a natural part of himself, Demone Phelps says. Phelps has drawn and painted since his early childhood – though he notes that it took him many years to develop his signature style, which he describes as “decorative abstract art.” Phelps also has a deep connection to Coca-Cola, as he serves as a security team manager at the company’s headquarters in Atlanta. When viewing his bottle, keep an eye out for four polar bears hidden within the painting. “Three of them are easy to find,” Phelps said, “but the fourth one? Good luck!”

Dirk Hays, 'untitled'

Dirk Hays says he likes to inject a little whimsy into his work. The goal for his art, he says, is to inspire people to think, have fun and use their imagination when they look – as reflected by the 10 miniature Coke bottles buried in his design. His involvement in the Atlanta art scene runs deep and wide. Since 1982, he’s worked in the city as a visual artist, puppeteer, tattoo artist, prop builder, furniture maker, actor, musician and gallery owner. Similarly, his ties to Coca-Cola are strong and storied, from the days he recycled glass Coke bottles as a child. “I worked in advertising after college,” he said, “and my first assignment at the agency was for the fountain department at Coca-Cola.”

John Morse, 'World of Coca-Cola'

Although he began his career as an artist in his twenties, John Morse’s love for art began as a child in a small town. Each time Morse’s father got his uniform shirts pressed, he would save the cardboard inserts for Morse to use as drawing paper. Consequently, Morse’s signature style is “refashioning common objects and ordinary settings into unexpected results,” as exemplified by his bottle, which he turned into a literal world of Coca-Cola. “The leaves allude to Coca-Cola’s commitment to environmental responsibility and are made from recycled plastic, including DASANI and Simply Orange bottles,” he said. “Putting the Earth in a bottle is physically impossible, but you can do it with art.”

Kathleen Plate, 'untitled'

In 1993, Kathleen Plate was a self-described “broke grad student” who needed a birthday gift for a friend. She designed a pair of glass earrings, launching a career defined by clean, modern style with a unique twist – Plate creates her own raw materials from post-consumer glass bottles. She has been making jewelry for The Coca-Cola Company using recycled bottles for almost 10 years, and her bottle art is also covered in pieces of recycled bottles. “I hand cut every single piece of glass from the embossed logo bands of older Coca-Cola bottles,” she said. “Depending on how the glass is fired, you can still see signs of the logos in some of the mosaic pieces.”

Kyle Brooks, 'Bubblin’ Bottle of Good Times'

Also known as BlackCatTips, Kyle Brooks has been creating art featuring his signature “streetfolk” style since 2000. Most of his art concepts “have sprung from the red soil here, and it is the land of Coca-Cola and both sides of my family,” he said. “I am well invested in this area and whatever I do create is in some way a reflection of the people and streets around me.” Brooks’ bottle depicts many smiling faces and friends, a design he says is rooted in the “reminiscing feel” a Coke bottle gives him, inspiring him to “smile a little.”

Lee Laney, 'Celebration Dance!'

Lee Laney said he hasn’t stopped drawing since he was issued a pack of crayons as a child. He draws inspiration from cartoons, ink sketching, surrealism and social commentary to create a point of view that is uniquely his own. His bottle design incorporates many global touches, such as flags from around the world – and a few flags that eagle-eyed science fiction fans may recognize as being out of this world. It also includes the word “dance” in a variety of different languages, an idea he credits to his wife, who “hit on the idea based on the tasting room at the World of Coca-Cola, which is full of drinks from around the world. A perfect fit!”

Lucha Rodriguez, 'Pop á la Pink'

Since her childhood in Caracas, Venezuela, Lucha Rodriguez, also known as Lucha Pink, has loved bright neon colors – pink, in particular. “My style is pink,” she said, “and my goal is to add a breath of pink wherever possible. The design of [my] Coca-Cola bottle is elegant yet friendly and brings back memories of childhood birthday celebrations, the cheering at soccer games and Friday movie nights with sleepovers. My bottle design is the feeling of Coca-Cola’s bubbly effervescence with a touch of pink.”

Molly Rose Freeman, 'Half of a Gold Moon'

Molly Rose Freeman has been painting professionally for 10 years, though she’s been called an artist all her life. Her work is inspired by color, patterns and geometry. The design of her bottle art is rooted in the shape of the bottle itself, which she says is very feminine and regal. “I approached painting this form like I was dressing a queen, with beautiful purples, lots of layers and rich pattern. I was excited to take on the challenge of transforming such an iconic form into something that was uniquely mine.”

Sally King Benedict, 'From Sun to Moon'

Having lived and worked in her hometown of Atlanta for the last five years, Sally King Benedict credits the city’s dynamic mix of people and cultures as the inspiration for her bottle’s design. One childhood memory proved particularly inspirational: “I will always have fond memories of performing with my elementary school jump rope team on the steps of the entrance to the old World of Coca-Cola. The camaraderie of the students and teachers from all over the city was amazing. I included some of those faces in my bottle, and I’m hoping to bring out some light and positive energy with those faces.”

Sidney Carter, 'Taste of Symphony'

Sidney Carter says he didn’t choose to be an artist – art chose him. He describes his art as nostalgic, colorful and fun, and musical abstracts are one of his signature styles. His bottle design was inspired by instruments, he said, specifically “using instruments to pour out of the bottle as fizz does whenever a bottle of Coca-Cola is shaken and spills over. Music runs down the bottle, giving me the title ‘Taste of Symphony.’ When the audience is drinking a Coca-Cola, the enjoyment is like music to their mouths.”

To purchase tickets or learn more about the attraction, visit World of Coca-Cola online.