Metal & Plastic

“Metal & Plastic”

Curated by Yuko Nii,

Assisted by Germania Reyes  

Show Dates: Oct. 21 – Jan. 13, 2024

Review of “Metal & Plastic”

Exhibition – WAH Center

by Skipper

The ‘Metal & Plastic’ exhibition at the Williamsburg Art & Historical Center, curated by Yuko Nii and her assistant Germania Reyes, embarks on a profound exploration reminiscent of composing a symphony from the unexpected yet harmonious union of metal and plastic. This exhibition serves as a platform for diverse artists, each offering their distinctive perspective on the fusion of ‘Metal & Plastic. Among these creators are

Ellen Alt, RicardoArango, Silvia Aviles, Reto Chen, Christopher Craig, Natalia D’Onofrio, Debra Friedkin, Jeffrey Friedkin, Glen Goodenough, Tairan Hao, Lannie Hart, Richard Hatter, Blake Hiltunen, Mino Hiranouchi, Kumi Hirose, Judith Eloise Hooper, Camille Kelley, Keongbok (Andrew) Lee, Elim Mak, Elena Mishenko- Cohen, Mieko Mitachi, Mauricio Morillas, William Norton, Eloa Jane Pereira, Laurie Russell, Cheryl Safren, Julie Joy Saypoff, SUPRINA, Sam Tufnell, Richard Vivenzio, Rebecca Welz, and Ellie Winberg.

Each artist brings a distinctive approach to the fusion of metal and plastic, offering a diverse tapestry of creative expressions within the third act of this innovative exhibition. The artists featured in this exhibition transcend conventional methods, breathing new life into metal and plastic. They redefine these materials, pushing them beyond their typical boundaries, unlocking fresh dimensions and possibilities.

Metal, an enduring presence in art history, traces its origins back to ancient times, where its symbolism of conductivity, strength, and flexibility emerged. Artists have utilized its distinct properties, spanning ferrous, nonferrous, and alloys like bronze and steel, to craft enduring works of art, showcasing the material’s adaptability and versatility. In stark contrast, Plastic emerges as a relatively modern material, born from pivotal scientific discoveries nearly a century ago. Its inception, akin to the infancy of a new era, originated in a chemist’s garage where cellulose transformed into Bakelite by Leo Bakeland. Plastics, known for their adaptability and versatility, swiftly infiltrated diverse industries and societies, offering cost-effective and flexible materials. However, the unchecked proliferation and inadequate disposal of plastics have inflicted severe environmental damage, clogging ecosystems, endangering wildlife, and persisting for centuries without degrading. Artists, recognizing this environmental crisis, have embraced plastic as a medium for creativity and activism, transforming discarded plastics into compelling artworks that raise awareness about environmental issues. This symbiotic relationship between art and plastic underscores the imperative for environmental responsibility. By repurposing waste into thought-provoking art, these artists prompt viewers to reconsider consumption habits, advocating for sustainable practices and collective action to protect our planet’s future.Despite the initial celebration of plastics for their utility and durability, their excessive use and improper disposal have cast a shadow over our planet, necessitating urgent environmental stewardship.

Laurie Russell’s trio of artworks—‘Goddess,’ ‘Preserve,’ and ‘Cord Pillow’—shine as standout examples in the ‘Plastic and Metal’ exhibition and the Yuko Nii Foundation’s collection. Crafted from plastic bags, yarn, and buriap, these pieces showcase Russell’s talent for turning ordinary materials into captivating art. These artworks represent an innovative use of plastic, demonstrating Russell’s creativity in repurposing discarded materials. The fusion of plastic bags, yarn, and buriap creates a vibrant tapestry that grabs attention and prompts reflection. Russell’s art not only highlights the aesthetic possibilities of plastic but also sparks discussions about sustainability. By transforming plastic waste into art, she encourages conversations about reusing materials in the artistic landscape. These pieces underscore the transformative potential of plastic in art, illustrating its adaptability in the hands of a skilled artist like Russell. Her art encourages a fresh look at our relationship with plastic, urging us to see its potential beyond traditional use and consider its impact on environmental sustainability. In the broader context of the ‘Plastic and Metal’ exhibition, Russell’s artworks symbolize the essence of the show by redefining the boundaries of everyday materials. It breathes new life into ordinary items, projects sustainability principles all while recycling. These pieces Inspire one to reconsider how everyday objects can become impactful artistic expressions through repurposing.

Tairan Hao’s ‘Greetings #1’ emerges as a captivating enigma in reflective purple, defying the conventional constraints of form. Crafted with precision using a blend of 3D Printing PLA and Electroplated techniques, this sculpture boasts dimensions of 26.7 x 18.5 x 31.5, captivating viewers with its ethereal presence. Its unconventional contours and luminous, reflective surface invite contemplation, where observers enter a realm where boundaries between art and imagination blur.

Reto Chen’s artwork ‘Skin Manifesto’— measuring 25 x 10 x 11 and crafted from Steel and Ink on Plaster—holds a mirror to the complexities of human identity within the realms of plastic and metal. Chen’s ‘Skin Manifesto’ resonates deeply within the exhibition’s exploration of materials. It examines how societal ideals and personal desires influence our understanding of self, aligning with the overarching theme of reshaping perspectives on fundamental materials like plastic and metal. By dissecting the layers of our relationship with our skin, this piece parallels the exhibition’s intent to delve beneath the surface of materials, inviting introspection about our relationship with these foundational elements. It prompts contemplation on authenticity, societal expectations, and the struggle between conformity and self-acceptance—a dialogue echoed throughout the broader showcase of ‘Plastic and Metal.’ ‘Skin Manifesto’ serves as a poignant reminder amidst the innovative displays of metal and plastic artistry, urging viewers to reflect on embracing authenticity and reconnecting with their genuine selves amidst the transforming landscapes of material innovation.

Eloa Jane Pereira’s “Crooked Caravaggio,” an 11×14 plastic bag relief framed artwork, stands out in the ‘Plastic and Metal’ exhibition for its unique use of plastic bags as its primary medium. Pereira’s approach reinterprets traditional art forms, showcasing the versatility and creative potential of everyday materials. This artwork serves as a striking example within the exhibition, sparking contemplation about art, materiality, and environmental consciousness. It highlights the transformative power of redefining materials, contributing to a larger dialogue on sustainability while reimagining the boundaries of artistic expression.

Ellen Alt’s contributions to the exhibition—featuring “Multi,” “Car Part Scrubby,” and “Astro Cow”—highlight her artistic talent within the broader context of the show. These three artworks represent a notable aspect of her creative expression amidst the collective display of various artists’ works exploring the themes of plastic and metal. Alt’s pieces stand out for their distinctiveness and artistic flair. “Multi,” specifically, a mixed medium on steel from 1999 measuring 19 × 26, showcases her adeptness in combining different mediums to create engaging and thought-provoking art. Alt’s contributions remain a significant component, contributing to the rich tapestry of artistic interpretations exploring the relationship between plastic, metal, and creative expression within the show.

SUPRINA’s work encompass three distinct yet thematically cohesive artworks: these pieces are fashioned from found objects and displayed by the windows, and “Prayers for Mother Earth One,” crafted from plastic children’s toys. These artworks, created in 2023, seamlessly align with the exhibition’s theme, complementing the sustainability practices emphasized not only within this show but also in preceding exhibitions. “The Sum of Us 1” and “The Sum of Us 2,” assembled from found objects, namely, paint can lids mended together and strategically positioned by the windows, serve as compelling representations of SUPRINA’s creative ingenuity. These pieces utilize discarded materials, forging a striking visual narrative that resonates with the overarching theme of repurposing and recycling. These pieces not only contribute to the dialogue on repurposing materials but also stand as testament to the artist’s commitment to highlighting environmental concerns through innovative artistic expressions. Their thematic cohesion and alignment with sustainability resonate not just within the current exhibition but also across prior showcases, underlining SUPRINA’s dedication to creating impactful art with a lasting message.

Lee, Keongbok (Andrew) presents a cohesive set of three artworks “Untitled” within the ‘Plastic and Metal’ exhibition. Each piece, measuring 18 x 24, is crafted using Matte Vinyl Sticker on Acrylic Sheet. Despite sharing the same title, these artworks form a unified series, showcasing Lee’s intentional and cohesive artistic expression. Through the use of Matte Vinyl Sticker on Acrylic Sheet, Lee demonstrates a consistent visual language across the trio. This choice of materials establishes a cohesive and harmonious connection throughout the series, inviting viewers to engage with the shared aesthetics and thematic continuity within these untitled pieces. These artworks contribute to the exhibition by offering a distinctive exploration of the interplay between matte vinyl sticker and acrylic. (Andrew)’s decision to present this cohesive set allows audiences to delve into the interconnectedness of the pieces, appreciating their collective impact and the artist’s deliberate cohesion within this innovative use of materials.

Cheryl Safren contributes three compelling pieces to the ‘Plastic and Metal’ exhibition: “Habitation 14,” “Habitation 15,” and “Quadrasphere.” These artworks, each distinct in its portrayal, engage with the themes of habitation, exploration, and the interconnectedness of ecosystems. “Habitation 14” and “Habitation 15” represent Safren’s artistic exploration using Chemistry, Paint, and Plastic on Copper. These pieces, both measuring 51 × 39, offer a glimpse into Safren’s innovative use of materials and chemical processes, creating dynamic and visually engaging imagery. “Quadrasphere,” another striking creation by Safren, presents a unique artistic interpretation, inviting viewers to contemplate the interconnectedness of ecosystems and the vastness of unexplored landscapes. This artwork, with its evocative name, offers a deeper exploration of Safren’s artistic vision and exploration of possible realms. Through these three artworks, Safren explores the dynamic interplay between materials, chemical reactions, and creative expression, inviting viewers to engage with the intricacies of habitation, exploration, and the symbiotic relationships within ecosystems. Each piece stands as a testament to Safren’s artistic versatility and commitment to exploring diverse themes through innovative artistic mediums.

Blake Hiltunen’s set of mirrors, including “Satanic Mirror 7,” “Distorted Mirror 4,” “Satanic Mirror 4” (Plastic), and “Satanic Mirror A,” offers a unique and thought-provoking addition to the exhibition. These mirrors, each crafted with distinct materials like bronze, nickel-plated bronze, chromium paint on urethane, and plastic, showcase Hiltunen’s exploration of materials and perspectives. The mirrors change perception in regards to what a mirror is; a mere reflective surface. Instead, it takes a different artistic concept, manipulating the reflective surfaces to distort perceptions, evoke introspection, and prompt contemplation. This set of mirrors is particularly noteworthy within the exhibition due to its innovative use of materials like plastic, chromium paint on urethane, bronze, and nickel-plated bronze. This amalgamation of materials emphasizes the overarching theme of the show—exploring the dynamic relationship between plastic and metal in contemporary art. Moreover, Hiltunen’s mirrors encourage viewers to reflect not only on their own distorted reflections but also on broader societal themes, including the impact of materials, the nature of perception, and the interplay between materials and meaning. Their conceptual depth, innovative use of materials, and the narrative they weave align perfectly with the exhibition’s focus on redefining material boundaries, pushing artistic limits, and engaging viewers in a thought- provoking dialogue. Hiltunen’s set of mirrors stands out as a testament to artistic ingenuity within the ‘Plastic and Metal’ exhibition, offering an engaging and multi-dimensional exploration of materials, perception, and artistic expression.

The ‘Plastic and Metal’ exhibition stands as a testament to artistic innovation at the Williamsburg Art & Historical Center (WAH Center), offering a remarkable journey into the dynamic relationship between diverse materials. There will be one more show in this series, the fourth finale, titled “Glass and Glitter”! As this showcase concludes, it paves the way for an exciting series of upcoming events that promise to further enrich the cultural landscape. Representing a significant milestone in the Williamsburg Art and Historical Center’s journey since its inception in 1996, this institution, founded by Yuko Nii, within a historic 1867 NYC landmark in Brooklyn, NY has been listed on the National Register of Historical Places! The WAH Center thrives as a non-profit organization. Under Nii’s visionary guidance and with support from government figures like Brooklyn Borough Presidents, NYS Governors, and NYC Mayors, the WAH Center hosts the esteemed WAH Salon Art Club, offering artists from various career stages a global platform. Over the years, Yuko has curated pivotal exhibitions covering diverse artistic styles and themes, including recent successes like ‘Clay & Textile,’ ‘Wood & Paper,’ and now, the third of the series ‘Plastic and Metal.’

In parallel, the WAH Center is embarking on a visionary initiative—a fundraising campaign aimed at installing an elevator to enhance accessibility within the gallery space. This inspiring endeavor mirrors the center’s ethos of inclusivity, affirming that art should transcend physical limitations. By introducing this accessibility feature, the WAH Center reaffirms its commitment to ensuring that everyone, regardless of mobility, can fully immerse themselves in the enriching exhibitions and cultural offerings within the gallery walls. There will be a variety of upcoming fundraisers, but if you’re interested in supporting right now, feel free to shop at the vintage market on Saturday and Sundays! Located on the first floor of the WAH Center. Among the highly anticipated events is the 25th annual WAH Salon show, an imminent celebration poised to highlight the diverse tapestry of contemporary artistry. This milestone exhibition is set to illuminate the evolving realm of art, showcasing the vibrant creativity of established and emerging artists, promising a captivating exploration of artistic diversity and creativity. The WAH Center’s mission, fostering an environment where art serves as a unifying force, transcending barriers and opening doors to diverse perspectives. It embodies an unwavering dedication to creating a space where creativity flourishes without constraints, inviting all individuals to engage with and partake in the transformative power of art. As the gallery sets its sights on ambitious endeavors, it aspires to evolve further into a inclusive, diverse, and accessible cultural hub—a sanctuary that embraces the universal language of art, celebrating the rich tapestry of human expression and fostering a sense of unity among all who walk through its doors.

To all who have taken the time to explore and engage with our current exhibition, we extend our deepest gratitude. Your presence and support have been invaluable in shaping this vibrant artistic tapestry. As we bid farewell to this showcase, we cherish the moments shared and eagerly anticipate welcoming you back for our upcoming artistic odysseys. Thank you for being a part of our artistic journey!

Sample Resume 1 | Sample Resume 2 | Sample Resume 3

Comments are closed.