Aesthetic Afterlife An Exhibition by the Chipstone Foundation

January 22 August 3 2014

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We will die, civilization will crumble, life as we know it will cease to exist, but trash will endure, and there it was on the street, our ceaselessly erected, ceaselessly broken cenotaphs to ephemera and disconnection and unquenchable want.

The quote above is unmistakably dire and pessimistic, and it hints at a dystopian future for the world.  Our obsessive materialism today occurs without consideration of what happens to things when we no longer need or want them. In this installation, six Wisconsin artists address the myriad problems raised by our “throw-away culture,” but they do so somewhat optimistically, using old objects to create beautiful works of art.    

William Andersen embellishes tools as a critique of American companies that close down factories and move their production overseas in search of cheaper labor. Inspired by all of the perfectly functional furniture thrown away on college campuses at the end of each school year, Jason Ramey creates hybrid sculptures that fuse pieces of furniture to walls, thereby making them un-disposable. Heather McCalla challenges our perceptions of and relationships to familiar objects by building monumental second-hand chair sculptures that render pieces of furniture un-functional. Hongtao Zhou gathers broken chairs from dumpsters and used belts from thrift shops to create bull heads that reference the American dream as well as its wasteful reality. Niki Johnson explores ideas of value by collecting, erasing, and subsequently gilding transfer-printed nature images found on discarded commemorative plates. Yevgeniya Kaganovich sews interconnected plant-like forms out of plastic bags collected from recycling bins. Conceived as a piece that is alive, the “plants” grow throughout the exhibition as more bags are deposited into the bins. The artists in Aesthetic Afterlife implicitly criticize overconsumption by using second-hand objects as integral parts of their work, but their efforts suggest that it is possible for castoffs to live an aesthetic and purposeful afterlife.

Robin Nagle, Picking Up: On the Streets and Behind Trucks with the Sanitation Workers of New York City (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013), p 49.

Programs for Aesthetic Afterlife: An Exhibition by the Chipstone Foundation


Friday, January 31, 2-4 p.m.
grow workshop with Yevgeniya Kaganovich

Friday, February 21, 2-4 p.m.
grow workshop with Yevgeniya Kaganovich

Friday, February 28, 2-4 p.m.
grow workshop with Yevgeniya Kaganovich