Tag Archives: found objects

Inspiration: Alejandro Durán

 

Alejandro Durán, a Brooklyn-based multimedia artist, has created a series of site-specific sculptures in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, in his native Mexico. His site: undeveloped, federally-protected land, a place named “where heaven was born” by the ancient Mayan people. His material: trash.

“In my current project, Washed Up, I address the issue of plastic pollution making its way across the ocean and onto the shores of Sian Ka’an, Mexico’s largest federally-protected reserve. With more than twenty pre-Columbian archaeological sites, this UNESCO World Heritage site is also home to a vast array of flora and fauna and the world’s second largest coastal barrier reef. Unfortunately, Sian Ka’an is also a repository for the world’s trash, which is carried there by ocean currents from many parts of the globe.”

“Over the course of this project, I have identified plastic waste from fifty nations on six continents that have washed ashore along the coast of Sian Ka’an. I have used this international debris to create color-based, site-specific sculptures.”

“Conflating the hand of man and nature, at times I distribute the objects the way the waves would; at other times, the plastic takes on the shape of algae, roots, rivers, or fruit, reflecting the infiltration of plastics into the natural environment.”

“More than creating a surreal or fantastical landscape, these installations mirror the reality of our current environmental predicament. The resulting photo series depicts a new form of colonization by consumerism, where even undeveloped land is not safe from the far-reaching impact of our disposable culture.”

“…Washed Up speaks to the environmental concerns of our time and its vast quantity of discarded materials. The alchemy of Washed Up lies not only in converting a trashed landscape, but in the project’s potential to raise awareness and change our relationship to consumption and waste.”

For a look at the work of another trash-collecting artist, check out this post about Barry Rosenthal.

Junk sculptures

I’m someone who loves to collect discarded stuff to use for art materials.  The fact that I find these things in the course of my everyday life gives my work another layer of personal meaning. The ingredients in my work tend to have some history: the wrapping paper from a friend’s baby shower, the abandoned nest from under the eave, the wires collected on dog walks in Central Park.

Over the years, I have encouraged kids that I’ve worked with to collect things that they find in the course of their days, and they have created some beautiful works with those materials. Here are two of my favorites.

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The Lonely Sailor 

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Ballerina

RIP

This was a big week for deaths. Pete Seeger, one of my lifetime inspirations. The brilliant actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. And…my dog Gus. Like Seeger, Gus was an old man (thirteen), but was in great shape for an old guy.  So the suddenness was a shock. And if you love a pet, you know why the loss brought heartbreak. The real Day of the Dead happened a couple of months ago, but at my house, a little Día de Muertos art/music therapy is in order right now.

I’ve spent many years and many miles walking with Gus in Central Park. Since I’m a scavenger, I have collected hundreds of rusty wires that I’ve found on my walks. They’re double loop rebar ties that were used to tie wire fencing to the posts (now they use a heavy duty plastic type). The wires are lying around all over the park, although I may be the only person who considers them treasures. Those that were dropped and are intact have a loop on each end, have wonderful shapes, and are great for making mobiles and all kinds of other things. The twisted and broken finds are also great for flower stems, picture hangers, jewelry, all kinds of things.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis necklace documents our mornings spent together: years worth of Gus’s worn dog tags, rusty wires, and other found objects. The yin/yang dog tag at the center was an unusually great park find, and I think it belongs here, since life and death cannot exist without each other. I made this a bunch of years ago, and as we’ve grown older together, I’ve had more dog tags to add.

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Here’s my all-time favorite dog song, by one of my favorite artists. A tribute to Gus and to all our beautiful dogs out there. The Dog Song by Nellie McKay.