Tuesday, May 21, 2013

SFO Museum Exhibits The Art of Recology

On a recent trip east from the San Francisco airport, I had a bit of time to spare and took a stroll through the SFO Museum, whose exhibit was The Art of Recology: The Artist in Residence Program 1990--2013.
Armed with safety gear and a shopping cart, artists chosen for the professional residency program have twenty-four-hour access to a studio space, but more importantly are able to scavenge in the Public Disposal and Recycling Area—what most artists refer to as “The Big Store.” ... Artists spend four months scavenging, sorting, cleaning, and creating a body of work in preparation for a two-day exhibition attended by hundreds of people from the community and the company. (SFO Museum website)

As most travelers hurried past, I pored over each piece -- many aesthetically beautiful and all evocative reflections on the meaning of material objects, on what is regarded and discarded as trash -- often, like print books, to a bygone era. Of course, I was especially drawn to displays using thrown-away books or paper. The photo above shows a typewriter rake sweeping up leaves made from book pages; the photo to the right revealed the re-creation of a conjured life through objects once deemed important and the nostalgia of things past: Notice the airplane reflected inside the old suitcase above the notebook, ledger and strip of calligraphic script. (Click on each photo to enlarge it.)

Here are a few more displays to share with you, along with a couple of statements I copied from the exhibit about the artists and their work. Unfortunately, I didn't document the names of each artist or each title.

I like how the following photo captures the ghostly images of people in transit on the terminal's moving walkway -- the transitory nature of our lives superimposed over the artist's bookcase:

Gaza Bowen's 'Cryptotomes'
"Internationally recognized artist Gaza Bowen took an imaginative approach to her Recology residence, producing Waste Not/What Not, a satirical mail-order catalog featuring objects she found at the dump. The booklet contains photos and descriptions of perfectly good items people had thrown away, as well as facts and statistics about consumption and recycling presented in the form of a catalog with shipping/sizing information. While at the dump, Bowen also made Cryptotomes. Appearing to be books on a shelf, this sculpture is made from metal siding, and was a continuation of her earlier Bibliotheca Memoria, an installation "library" built from scavenged materials."

Karrie Hovey's 'groundcover'
"During her residency at Recology, Karrie Hovey made work that addresses the compulsion of humans to alter and manipulate the landscape. Entitled goundcover, her residency exhibition featured artworks that covered the floor of the studio and which suggested landscapes viewed from the air.... she constructed a field of repeating chrysanthemum forms, and like these flowers that are sometimes associated with grief, this work can be seen as mourning the loss of physical books while also referring to the forests of trees used in their creation." 

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