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October Issue 2003

Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro, NC, Features Exhibition Based on Plastics

The moment in the film, The Graduate, when a family friend gives Ben (Dustin Hoffman) a tip on where he will find a successful future, captures some of our culture's ambivalent relationship to one of the most ubiquitous materials of modern times. To the older "mentor," plastic offers the promise of the future; to the younger, disaffected Hoffman, it represents a phony, inauthentic way of life.

Plastic, perhaps more than any other modern innovation, has been both heralded and derided - as the symbol of progress and the bane of our environment. Through Dec. 7, 2003, Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro, NC, will present an exhibition entitled, One Word: Plastic, that features the work of five contemporary artists who use some form of plastic as their primary medium. Collectively, these artists' work not only presents some of the enormous variety of types of plastic in use today; it also represents some of the gamut of complex and simultaneous cultural meanings that reside in this synthetic product found everywhere around us.

Linda Besemer extends the idea of painting in works that are made only of acrylic paint, without the conventional support of stretcher bars and canvas. She builds up multiple layers of paint and alters the "image" from layer to layer; when folded over the installation support of a metal rod, both the initial and final surfaces are seen in their differing patterns and the edge of the painting offers some indication of the work's making. Besemer has taken the phrase, "plastic arts," at its most literal.

Ian Dawson recycles found plastic items, such as lawn chairs, buckets, and even Barbie dolls, into exuberant, sometimes slightly manic, sculptures that capitalize upon the brilliant colors of the original objects. Dawson uses a blowtorch to turn hardened plastic into molten form that he can readily manipulate, in some cases, using it to "draw" in three-dimensions.

With surprisingly simple means, Tony Feher transforms the everyday - and everywhere - discarded stuff of life. He fills used bottles with colored water to create elegant works that delineate even the most architecturally strong spaces. Their elegance is in contrast to the minimalist language of the walls, columns, and boxes he builds from plastic milk and soda bottle crates. His disarming works celebrate the incidental and the ordinary.

Carlos Mollura

Carlos Mollura uses plastic to fashion works that are often architectural in nature. With transparent "building blocks," filled with air to simultaneously reveal and demarcate interior and exterior, Mollura has made sculptures that function as almost-invisible walls or that create apparent rooms within rooms.

Combining both painterly and sculptural interests, Shirley Tse uses various forms of plastic. With carved and assembled blocks of Styrofoam, she has simulated futuristic cityscapes, architectural capitals and shelves, and communal furniture. In other, two-dimensional works, she cuts into PEVA, a soft, pliable vinyl, as if she is creating abstract paintings.

One Word: Plastic was organized by the Weatherspoon Art Museum. A catalogue with essay by director Nancy M. Doll accompanies the exhibition and will be available for sale in the Weatherspoon Museum Shop. Doll will lead a gallery talk through the exhibition on Oct. 1 at 12:30pm.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Museum at 336/334-5770 or on the web at (www.weatherspoon.uncg.edu).

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