Many of us collect things, all kinds of things. Some people love to display their collections. For others, it’s more about classifying and arranging, maybe a way of making sense of the world around them.
And then there are artists for whom the collecting is a central part of the art process. Photographer Barry Rosenthal is a junk collector after my own heart, but he takes collecting to a new level in his series Found In Nature.
From collecting comes inspiration for new ideas and pieces. Collecting is the foundation of the project. I collect everything myself. I collect only from coastal areas that have an immediate connection to the ocean. Periodic collecting is a means of renewing the project. I seem to pick up energy from collecting to carry me further with my work.
Collecting is the first step in a creative cycle. Finding a theme, sorting the objects, combining objects, building a composition, filling a space, and finding a lighting solution are steps I go through to make a piece. At some point in building the composition or sculpture some intangible emotional feeling is imparted to the piece. There is an intimacy between the objects and myself. Intimacy transforms into soul.
I have learned that plastic is forever. Breaking down plastic pollution into ever smaller bits is not a solution. Plastic must be removed from the environment and not allowed to cover the oceans and land. The oceans need advocates. I do a small part to further the visibility of ocean-borne pollution. Education is important in showing what is already in the environment. I’m an artist. I didn’t start out to make a political statement with my work. I was attracted to these ‘lost’ objects. The work continues to evolve. I want to make a statement about contemporary archeology. We are what we produce.
You can find more of Rosenthal’s Found in Nature series here.