|: recycled plastic art
by David Edgar
The Plastiquarium is immersed in mystery. Modern myth suggests that a century of increasing phosphate levels in Earth's marine environment caused new, synthetic life forms to emerge. As recyclable HDPE plastic containers spread concentrates of consumer product pollutants, the Plastiquarium creatures evolved in the image of their packaging forbearers.
As a sculptor, my work has always been strongly informed by the 20th century tradition of found object assembly. Perhaps, in the context of a mid-life catharsis, I recently interrupted over 25 years of working in steel, and began making decorative artworks from recyclable detergent bottles. With quality of craft as an important issue for me, I find that making recycled plastic art truly energizes my creative spirit. One of the results is the marine creatures of the Plastiquarium.
Considering the development of this new artwork, I realize that there are a number of recognizable influences that place the work into the context of a larger continuum. The Plastiquarium certainly fits within the genre of collage and found-object assembly. The American Pop Art movement, particularly the work of Andy Warhol, validates the use of commercial packaging images as symbolic elements characterizing our producer/consumer society. More recently, a folk art tradition of crafting toys and collectable decorative objects out of aluminum beverage cans has emerged in Africa and Asia.
Working with these consumer-based recycled materials results in expressive, uniquely crafted and affordable artworks that are accessible to the public. The material aspects of the media include pieces that are colorful, lightweight and durable. Although my previous studio work is entrenched in academic intellect, this new work embraces a festive aesthetic with lighthearted imagery that I hope resonates in contrast with our increasingly stressful society.
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