Have a Nice Day
Exhibition at Quirk Gallery, Richmond VA
“Please recycle this bag.”
“Please reuse this bag.”
“Get an enviro-credit of 10 cents by refusing a new plastic bag.”
Feel good about yourself and these actions knowing that you are helping our planet. The devastating truth, however, is far darker and more pessimistic. Under 10% of what is put in recycling bins across this country is actually recycled. Have a Nice Day is an investigation of one artists curiosity to collaborate with and ultimately make friends with the insidious yet exceedingly useful material: plastic.
I use Facebook and Instagram to gather most of the materials needed, from cast off old faux pearls to single use plastic bags. Involving a virtual community is important to the project because of collective complicity in choosing plastic as the go-to material of choice. Spending countless hours with a so-called “bad thing” has become a rumination on understanding and peacemaking with a significant adversary to our biological and biospheric health. A sort of “peace treaty” with a foe who is here to stay and who along the way I’ve enjoyed getting to know.
Landscape #1: Purisima, made from faux pearls as well as pill/herb bottles from my own daily routine of maintaining health, I beaded and engraved the route of one of my favorite 10 mile hikes. Bottle heights translate the 2,000 foot elevation change creating a topography. There is irony in the piece: the bottles that hold salubrious plant extracts are of course made from the same material that is so ruinous to them. This is the first in a series of landscapes meant to memorialize landscapes that will be altered by our collective action or inaction as climate change impacts the natural world and all that we take for granted.
Other pieces such as the series Please recycle this bag are ironic indictments of our consumerist culture. The more we buy the more we receive plastic happy smiling faces and big plastic thank yous. These single use plastic bags make up the latch hooked wall hangings.
An overall theme of the exhibition is the relationship between the corporeal landscape and planetary one. Currently, in order for one (corporeal) to thrive, the other (planetary) has to suffer. Jewelry made from lids collected from my own daily regimen of pill taking (improve corporeal health, good for me), are couched with used collected plastics and new glass beads (planetary health, bad). This reflects the complicated navigation of materiality, artistic expression and in the end what it is to live in a dramatically changing 21st century. Time spent with plastic continually shows me how terrible and wonderful a material it is.