Tuesday, June 14, 2016
SDA show 4 -- plastic
Any time you see a fiber show that's looking for "new," "nontraditional," "edgy" or "innovative" work, you'll see stuff made out of plastic, sure as night follows day. And nine times out of ten, the artist statement will say this is a commentary on consumer waste and environmental degradation. Some might even argue that making quilts or weavings or whatever out of plastic has now become traditional, maybe even a cliche.
So when you find some of these objects in a show, you don't really have to stop and think whether this is revolutionary or innovative, because it isn't. You can cut to the chase: do you like the object, how it was made and how it looks?
I vote yes for this piece, which is made from plastic billboard signs, sewed together as a quilt. The orange is striking, and I love the way the artist has sliced up the letters to make an abstract design, still recognizable as typography but also formally animated and balanced. Particularly nice is the way the shapes blend into one another across the seamlines, and how the figure and ground shift back and forth -- are we seeing orange on a white background or vice versa? My only wish would be for this to be four times as big (it's about 30 inches across, as I recall) for real impact.
I like this piece, too, a "basket" woven from plastic oxygen tubing, cable ties, acupuncture needle holders and some wire. The medical materials are a bit off-putting, but the colors are light and bright and the green leaf-shaped doodads take the edge off the industrial vibe.
I thought this work, a big bag-like form made from junk food wrappers, was a little less successful. I know we're supposed to take the message that junk food is bad for you and even disgusting in hindsight (the artist statement notes that the object is wedged in the corner "like a giant piece of discarded gum") but to me it just looked like a beanbag chair with a particularly busy print cover. Been there, seen that.