Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Plastic Cups, Straws and Tape: Materials of Artistic Genius

Tara Donovan has to be the most creative customer in the plastics packaging supply chain. Donovan is an artist from Brooklyn, NY who won a $500,000 MacArthur Foundation "genius" award last week. Recipients of the annual MacArthur program receive a single phone call from the Foundation with news that they will receive $500,000 in no-strings-attached support over the next five years. According to the Foundation’s web site, Donovan uses plastic cups, drinking straws and Scotch tape to “transform ordinary accumulated materials into intriguing visual and physical installations.” Donovan, 38, will enjoy the opening of her first major museum show, a traveling retrospective, on October 10 at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston

Donovan’s work is cool, eerie and quite unique in that it uses manufactured items to suggest natural landscapes and terrains. Check out these photos of her work and note the description of the materials used.

Here’s how the folks at ARTINFO described two of her installations: One “rises from the floor like a fog conjured improbably by Scotch tape looped in seemingly endless spiral formations and graded hills” and another is a “mountain of stacked straws creeping up the wall in an ethereal haze.” Many of her works must be freshly built each time they are displayed at a gallery or exhibition space. That’s no easy chore. For example, her "Untitled (Plastic Cups)" (2006), involves stacking millions of transparent plastic cups and can be expanded or contracted to fit a particular size area.

Perhaps manufacturers of plastics cups and straws should consider being a corporate sponsor of Tara Donovan’s next show! Maybe she would be willing to display her art for us at NPE2009.

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