Fans of this blog will know that I am way into repurposing and recycling items that would otherwise end up in a landfill into both functional items and aesthetically pleasing works of art, so when I read about Floating Maize, artist Jean Shin’s new public art installation at the Brookfield Place mall, I braved the subway to get down there to check it out.
Known for her inventive works that transform discarded materials into elegant expressions of place and identity, Jean Shin’s art and practice is ingrained with the idea of sustainability. With that in mind, Shin has repurposed thousands of green plastic soda bottles into an elaborate installation that resembles an artificial landscape.
The Bench I I a (2017) by designer Max Lamb is one of the first prototypes made from solid textile board, a material composed of waste cotton. Lamb created this piece for Really, a Danish company that focuses on upcycling discarded textile waste.
Really mills used textiles into small fibers that are then bonded together with a special agent. The dark blue color of this bench comes from the cotton material, which is discarded denim. The bench is at once a functional object and a conversation starter regarding the reuse of waste materials. The museum installation includes a video (iPad screen seen above) in which Lamb discusses the making of the Really collection of furniture.
The word Nkondi means “hunter,” and it’s also the name of an idol (made by the Kongo people in the Congo region in central Africa) that contains an aggressive spirit meant to hunt down and punish wrongdoers.
The Nkondi Chair, which consists of a No 16 Bentwood Chair by Michael Thonet and hundreds of single-use plastic straws, embodies both the spirit and the act of wrongdoing. In the US, 500 million plastic straws are used and thrown away every single day, and with its artful combinations of colorful plastic straws on the legs, backrest and seat, the Nkondi chair brings attention to the massive plastic pollution on our planet. It also references the artwork created with recycled materials in many countries throughout Africa.
Nkondi is part of the the Metamorphosis Series, where designer Francis Assadi takes the Thonet No. 16 chair and transforms it into a new and vibrant work of art and design.
All of the Metamorphosis series chair are one-of-a-kind/collector’s pieces, handcrafted in New York. Find out more about the unique furniture of Francis Assadi Design Studio at This Link!
The making of dresses from feed sacks or flour bags began in the 19th century, but the idea is most closely associated with the1930s, when the Great Depression necessitated resourcefulness. Knowing that homemakers used the cotton sacks to make clothes and other household items, manufacturers began printing them with cheerful patterns.
In 1994, American Designer Lawrence Scott constructed this stylish suit from large pieces of old feed sacks. He chose to utilize traditional feed sacks rather than the fashionably printed, mid-century bags in order to call attention to their origin. Scott’s design exemplifies the increasing importance of recycling during the 1990s — a notice that extended to fashion production.
Photographed as Part of the Exhibit, Fashion Unraveled: Fashion & Textile, on View at the Museum at FIT Through November 17th, 2018
Coral Forest, Installation View (All Photos By Gail)
Crochet Coral Reef: Toxic Seas celebrates the tenth anniversary of the Crochet Coral Reef (2005–present), an ongoing project by sisters Margaret and Christine Wertheim and their Los Angeles–based organization, the Institute For Figuring. Mixing crocheted yarn with plastic trash, the work fuses mathematics, marine biology, feminist art practices, and craft to produce large-scale coralline landscapes, both beautiful and blighted. At once figurative, collaborative, worldly, and dispersed, the Crochet Coral Reef offers a tender response to the dual calamities facing marine life: climate change and plastic trash.
With 2016 being the hottest year on record, living reefs everywhere are under stress. Into these arenas of color huge areas of whiteness now intrude; bleaching events signal that corals are sick and dying. In 2005, in response to devastation of the Great Barrier Reef in their native Australia, the Wertheims began to crochet a simulation of healthy and ailing reefs.
Detail from the Photo Above
Using the algorithmic codes of crochet, the sisters produce crenellated forms that are representations of hyperbolic geometry, which is also manifest in the undulating structures of corals, kelps, and other reef organisms. The Wertheims and their collaborators, a core group of worldwide Crochet Reefers, fabricate an ever-evolving artificial ecology.
Coral Reef Crocheted in Part from Plastic Dry Cleaning Bags
Coral Reef Crocheted in Part from Recycled Plastic Toys
Detail From the Photo Above
This exhibition consists of three main “habitats.” A giant Coral Forest and a collection of miniature Pod Worlds represent the diversity of living corals through the varying textures, colors, and forms of crocheted yarn and beads. A Bleached Reef and a brand new Toxic Reef serve as invocations of dying corals, while The Midden—four years’ worth of the Wertheims’ own domestic plastic trash—constitutes a deeply personal response to the issue of plastic waste in the oceans, including human-made phenomena such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Branched Anemone Garden
Toxic Reef and Bleached Reef, Installation View
Often called the Rainforests of the Sea, coral reefs are some of the most biodiverse and productive ecosystems on Earth. They occupy less that a tenth of one percent of the world’s ocean area, yet are home to at least a quarter of all marine species. Reefs are vulnerable to many threats, such as destructive fishing techniques, pollution and tourism, as well as the global effects of climate change. The burning of fossil fuels and the raising of livestock are two of the major contributors to an increasing level of atmospheric carbon dioxide, which ultimately leads to the acidifcation and warming of ocean waters.
Bleached Reef, Detail
When reefs are stressed, a phenomenon known as “Bleaching” may occur. Photosynthetic algae — which live symbiotically within coral colonies — leave, thus depriving corals of both their color and a major food source. The Bleached Reef seen here is a crochet invocation of such ailing corals, reflected in the contrast between the still saturated red and pink areas and the soft white yearn of bleached portions.
Pod World — Plastic Fantastic Too
Pod World — Beaded Baroque
Pod World — Red and White
In 2006, Margaret and Christine Wertheim began to crochet household plastic into a Toxic Reef, which they have since developed into plastic and coral sculptures seen in the Coral Forest section this exhibit. The initial use of plastic, such as video and audio tape, tinsel and zip ties, in their artwork evolved into an awareness of the artists’ own plastic consumption. From 2007 to 2011 the Wereheim;s collected their domestic plastic trash, includign bottoles, take out containers, and disposable shopping bags.
The Midden, Detail
The Midden, seen suspended in a fishing net from the ceiling of the exhibit’s front gallery, is a record of the family’s personal waste, with a stunning visual realization of the disposability of contemporary consumption. The work was inspired by the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a vast area located in the northern Pacific Ocean near Hawaii, where millions of tons of plastic trash accumulates in a giant ocean gyre. Other such gyres dot the globe, ad these ghastly legacies human consumption are having detrimental effects on biological, ecological and economic systems.
Crochet Coral Reef: Toxic Seas is an important exhibit that is appropriate for the entire family. Not only will you see many beautiful crocheted sculptures, but you will learn something, while having your eyes opened to serious ecological issues that require our involvement and action right now.
Crochet Coral Reef: Toxic Seas By Margaret and Christine Wertheim and the Institute For Figuring will be on Exhibit Through January 22, 2017 at the Museum of Art and Design Located at 2 Columbus Cicle (59th Street at 8th Avenue) in NYC. This Exhibit represents a unique presentation of the Crochet Coral Reef that focuses on climate change and ocean health, is curated by Assistant Curator Samantha De Tillio for the Museum of Arts and Design.
If you happen to be doing the tourist thing in the city of Boston, you absolutely cannot miss the opportunity to visit the Museum of Fine Arts, which, like The Met here in NYC, is massive, and has a little bit of everything that an art lover wants to see, all under one roof. It is really quite a remarkable place.
Favorite areas of the museum, for me, are the Contemporary Art galleries, which make amazing use of the space with several installations placed against the high vaulted ceilings. One such piece is Tara Donovan’s Untitled, (2003); a representation of a cumulus cloud formation, which she created solely from Styrofoam cups stuck together with hot glue.
This piece is not only very beautiful, but it also encourages imaginative extrapolation as to how the Brooklyn-based artist chooses her materials. You can read more about that at This Link.