A plumber from Long Island City, by way of Argentina, takes a creative approach with the pipes, wrenches, nuts and bolts that he uses. Cristian Torres finds a new meaning in his work. (Additional camera and editing by Gwynne Hogan.)

This video was featured in Voices of NY, voicesofny.org/2014/03/the-art-of-plumbing/

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As a plumber, Cristian Torres struggles with flooding toilets, leaking faucets and dripping pipes. But the tools of his trade have transformed from drudgery to artistry when Torres uses them to create sculptures, paintings and lamps.

Torres has been a plumber since he was a teenager. He now lives in Long Island City and left his home country during economic crisis in 2000. The Argentine said he flipped a coin to decide whether to travel to the United States or Spain. The coin toss set him toward Miami, where he later boarded a bus to Harlem with only $300 in his pocket. Torres said he often worked long hours for little pay as a plumber, alongside immigrants from other countries. They would communicate with tools and gestures to get the job done. Because of his immigration status, Torres was unable to return to Argentina until eight years after leaving. In that time, his 10-year-old daughter became a young woman, his mother grew old and his father passed away. He spent time in Spain before returning to New York City.

He has been a tinkerer since his young days in the poorer suburbs of Buenos Aires, where he and his siblings would fashion toys, like yo-yos, out of wood. About seven years ago, he began making art again. Now Torres is taking a break from working with companies and is a freelance plumber so he can focus on his art.

You can learn more about Torres on his website, plumbingart.com.

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