Written by stoisher

as part of the CONFLUENCE Exhibition September 2020

Joseloff Gallery, University of Hartford, Connecticut

FutureOfAMaterial or FOAM, is an installation that uses found styrofoam pulled from polluted waterways as a portal material to create a printed visual language that engages in our detachment from waste, water, and a multitude of environmental injustices. FOAM is a process, an action, blessing or sacralization, in which a toxic material is ritualistically used in my artmaking practice to give meditative space for the toxic ‘immortal’ progeny of plastics that we have created. 

The prints in FOAM are made using a self-invented process called “Gomitaku” or“trash impression.” This is an adaptation of the Japanese fish printmaking technique Gyotaku. Styrofoam in this series replaces the fish as a print material. Their shapes are often fragments of larger objects whose phantom pieces remind us of their possible futurity in the stomachs of fish and birds, nestled into folds of a shoreline, or added to the 51 trillion microplastic particles floating in the sea. The resulting mono prints conjure the dark shadow each object casts as castaways in unseen landscapes, their textured “scales” reflecting back at us the layered impressions of our environmental oppression.

Gomitaku is a pictorial writing system and their repetitive shapes speak an importantlanguage, one that references the dichotomy of their ceaseless reproduction in factories and the toxic side effects of petrochemicals such as endocrine disruption and ecological sterility. The patterning is sometimes ritualistically organized as an aesthetic tool to make sense of the collection and other times it more resembles the chaotic mesh of the habitats from which they were hand-picked.The prints are on scrolls of unstretched canvas, linen, and paper and are large in their presentation, asking the viewer to see these fragments accumulating as monuments that are currently being built by our extraction and consumption systems. The works also reference the movement of water by hanging like waterfalls and crashing into pools of printed matter on the floor. These scenic “streams of consciousness” give visibility to the present that we currently ignore, the potential futurity of these objects of which we are in denial, while also connecting us to their past, which we most often want to conveniently forget.

Read a review of the exhibition here: