One Man’s Trash

Published July 16, 2014

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is, perhaps, an unlikely source of artistic inspiration; but it’s also an unexpectedly rich one (just ask Ben Lear, who we interviewed about his concept album about the Patch in 2011). It was with the Patch in mind that curators Nicholas Cinque and Ryan Steadman have organized a particularly resonant group show, “Save it for Later,” at Sotheby’s S2 Gallery in New York. Each of the 10 artists—all aged 27 to 45—included in the show makes unexpected use of salvaged, recycled, and found materials in his or her work.

“The reality of our large carbon footprint has slowly seeped into our collective conscious, first through the recycling movement and then the call for renewable energies, yet Americans are more reliant on cheap disposable materials and fossil fuels than ever,” Steadman explains. “The life of a new product has shortened to the point where product and garbage are quite similar; products often get discarded in bulk without ever being used, and materials are often produced so cheaply that they are seconds away from being classified as garbage. With the sheer amount and variety of waste products readily available, it is not a surprise that artists would naturally recycle or reuse this type of material as a part of their process. Being artists, the application of a handicraft alongside an objet trouvé is generally of equal importance, and can range from a more traditional form of painting to more mundane crafts like woodwork or embroidery.”

 The materials and styles included in the show are wide-ranging and thought-provoking. We’ve highlighted six of our favorites, including a resin-and-gouache painting created with bubble wrap by Interview pal Jack Siegel, in the slideshow above.

“SAVE IT FOR LATER” IS ON VIEW AT SOTHEBY’S S2 GALLERY IN NEW YORK THROUGH AUGUST 8.