“Post Waste” at South Bay Contemporary: Nothing Wasted
By Genie Davis
Curated by Tracey Weiss, Post Waste is a sustainable art exhibition that recycles and sustains not just the materials in the show, but the spirit. Powerful, soaring, and unique creations by Dosshaus – also known as Zoey Taylor and David Connelly, Dawn Ertl, Mitra Fabian, Tina Linville, Cynthia Minet, Lena Wolek and Weiss herself, use a variety of mixed media to create inventive pieces that excite viewers.
According to Weiss, the exhibition presents art created from post-consumer waste, and features artists who are aware of the social, environmental, political, and aesthetic impact of the materials.
The artists in Post Waste have worked to create an impact from first impression to viewers response to the media itself, a feeling of positive impact of re-purposed media, followed by the evolving consciousness of what is happening with the waste that is not re-purposed, and it’s environmental effects.
One of the strongest elements of the show – beyond the art, which is frankly dazzling – is the idea of viewer response to the re-purposed mediums used, and of the importance of recycling materials rather than creating waste. The title of the exhibition says it all: this is “post” waste – what can happen to waste when it goes beyond being thrown away.
Weiss offers a back-story here that explains that much of recycled material is still not properly reused, and instead ends up in the land and in the water.
While the exhibition does not propose everyone make art from trash, it is certainly one way to take care of the problem, and a day-long re-purposing art workshop was held at the exhibition earlier this month. But politics and creative impulses aside, the exhibition itself is simply exceptionally good art.
Using electrical components and clay, Mitra Fabian’s sensually shaped sculptures resemble strange and spiny sea creatures. The components appear fiercely indestructible, like a self-defense system for a living being, but also represent the long-lasting impact on the natural world of this type of material.
Lena Wolek, one of the most versatile artists around, has created a suit and a prom dress out of crocheted polyethylene bags. The suit, created in 2009 is enormous, “suitable” for an 8 foot tall man, and emblematic of the sheer amount of waste that’s tossed into our environment. Her more eliptical “Bloom” also uses discarded polyethylene bags, and is three feet wide, with a continuously added length. Again: political statement and sinuous sculpture.
Created from salvaged materials and nylon, thread, and acrylic paint, Tina Linville’s “Rainbow Net,” along with three other pieces, is appropriately eye “catching.” It is also emblematic of the waste in the sea that literally catches and destroys sea-life.
Tracey Weiss has previously exhibited at SBC, creating a full room of magical sculptures made of PET plastic from plastic water and soda bottles. Here, Weiss’s “Polyethylene Serpentes” feature PET plastic and monofilament, three conjoined snakes that reveal both Weiss’s five-year-long fascination with PET plastic and her background in ceramics. She has explained that she was looking for mixed media material available in large quantities when she tried plastic, and while the plastic is difficult to work with, it is endlessly available.
Weiss also has created an ersatz chandelier of sorts from old photographic slides, fiberboard, and light. Glowing in the backroom at SBC, the piece is reminiscent of stained glass, both fiercely modern and the stuff of Roman Catholic cathedrals.
Dawn Ertl uses hand-dyed wool, plastic, and weaving patterns. Composed of 8 different weavings, here the pieces are combined, and utilize the weaving pattern made from notations of M83’s poetic electronica in the music of Wait.
And speaking of music, the talented Dosshaus has used cardboard, acrylic paint, and paper to create a full band: drum kit, bass, hollow body guitar, vox amp, posters. Created in grey, black, and white, this installation is of an imaginary world, a dichromatic one.
Equally magical are Cynthia Minet’s Predator: Falcon and Spoonbill #2. The former piece features LEDs, fasteners, and post-consumer plastic to create a soaring, glowing bird, whose prosaic elements belies its creative passion. Both pieces highlight the nature that is most affected by our over-consumption, and offer the hope of redemption for this planet and its people.
Open through October 1st, this show is more than worth the drive to San Pedro.