Thursday, April 7, 2011

Reduce, Reuse, and Rummage Through the Trash

Attention, Charlotte residents - if you hear something rummaging around in your recycling bins, it’s not a raccoon. The culprit in question may actually be artist David Edgar, and he is simply searching for new materials for his art work.

After thirty years of working in formal fabricated steel sculpture, Edgar, on a whim, began to notice the bright colors and untapped potential in plastic packaging. His began creating sea creatures out of the material and, as a result, the “Plastiquarium” was born. In a play of sheer irony, Edgar’s “Plastiquarium” collection features “species” constructed out of the very materials that are polluting their habitat. But this is not the idea behind Edgar’s work. Instead of provoking worry in his viewers, Edgar feels his work “embraces a festive aesthetic with lighthearted imagery that I hope resonates in contrast with our increasingly stressful society.”

It’s refreshing to receive a message relating to the environment that is not wrapped up in a package of threats of Armageddon and shame to all that don’t abide. His work certainly encourages the audience to connect some dots and possibly make better choices about waste, the products they purchase, and the materials being used to create them - even if by default. (For starters, Edgar notes that during the cleaning process of the bottles when preparing his found materials, he is amazed at how much leftover detergent he discovers in containers that were meant for the trash.)

Edgar acknowledges that the idea behind his work is similar to others we have seen from artists such as Andy Warhol, for example, who have taken found objects and/or package designs and constructed artwork from them to highlight the producer/consumer relationship. He finds that creating this type of colorful art is very fulfilling, and he particularly loves the fact that the materials allow this type of work to be both affordable and accessible to the public. He is so passionate about his creations that he even teaches workshops to students who aspire to construct art from the packaging in their own homes, and his book, “Fantastic Recycled Plastic,” is chock-full of inspiration as well.

--Ali Macaluso

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