For artist Holly Lee, many of the works featured in her new solo exhibition at the Hunterdon Art Museum hold a special significance.
New York-based artist Shari Mendelson creates works that resemble something you’d expect to see in the antiquities gallery of a fine art museum.
But take a closer look. You are in for a surprise!
Mendelson creates her ancient-appearing vessels and figurines using salvaged plastic: juice, soda and water bottles. She cuts into them pieces and then, using hot glue and acrylic resin, creates new sculptures.
Shari Mendelson: Amphorae and Apparitions will be on exhibition at the Hunterdon Art Museum through Sept. 1.
“The original material is transformed from plastic trash into pieces that address issues of history, culture and the relative value of objects,” Mendelson said.
The work resonates even for those unfamiliar with ancient art or who haven’t studied it. “They’ll often say this reminds me of an ancient Roman piece,” she noted. “That’s a nice touchstone to introduce them to the work.”
Mendelson’s eco-sculptures reframe our past and confront our conspicuous consumption and what that means to our future. And sometimes the work befuddles those viewing it for the first time.
“People might not know where the recycled plastic is,” Mendelson noted. “Then they begin to see a logo or a recycling stamp with a label and then they begin to get it. That’s what draws them in.”
“Using plastic bottles, Mendelson at once puts contemporary environmental issues on a collision course with civilization’s long history,” said Marjorie Frankel Nathanson, executive director of the Hunterdon Art Museum. “By presenting this work HAM hopes to spark a discussion that might include the environment, consumerism, ancient civilizations and contemporary values.”
Her creations have been shown nationally and internationally including solo exhibitions at Todd Merrill Studio in Manhattan, Pierogi Gallery in Brooklyn, and John Davis Gallery in Hudson, New York. Among other recognitions, the artist has received four New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships, and is a 2017 Guggenheim Fellowship recipient. Mendelson received her MFA from SUNY New Paltz in 1986 and is currently a lecturer at Parsons School of Design in Manhattan.