Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Cathy Kasdan - Repurposed Inspiration


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transforming consumer culture
Originally uploaded by cvkasdan
All hand knit plastic. Credit card belt and buttons.

(Photos used with permission from Cathy Kasdan.)

Put off by the high cost of art supplies? Money should be no barrier to creation! One person’s bunkum is another’s ingenious art inspiration.

Want to help the environment through your art...make the world aware of how important it is to make wise consumer choices? Read on!

I recently had the privilege to connect with textile artist, Cathy Kasdan, who has hopped on the recycling bandwagon in a big way. Cathy fashions some very cool wearable works of art by re-purposing plastic bags into a plastic yarn medium. She told me that her goal is to “correlate the boom of the 1950’s and massive consumer consumption with the plastic bag”.

Using recycled materials is not a new art concept. Artists all over the world (myself included) are continually exploring new ways to express ourselves in environmentally friendly ways.

As we environmental enthusiasts explore ways to reduce waste, Cathy is doing her part by transforming plastic bags into these authentic-looking 1950’s style creations that promote ecological awareness and draw attention to consumerism by illustrating the huge impact plastic grocery bags alone have on our environment. Her hip fashions would make a more domestic CoCo Chanel jealous. She created these garments by snipping off the tops and bottoms of the bags and then spiral-cutting each bag about 11/2 inches wide all the way around. Using double-sided tape, she attached the spirals together. With her plastic yarn, she created an entire 1950s housewife ensemble and continues to work her plastic bag magic on other garments.

Plastic shopping bags have been a major part of consumerism since their introduction in the late 70’s, and have been polluting our environment ever since, harming wildlife and winding up in landfills. According to the EPA, “…about 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps a year are consumed in the United States. “ Each plastic bag that is used can take up to 1,000 years to decompose.

A number of African countries and some parts of India have regulations against the use of plastic bags. Ireland imposes a tax on them, and recently, San Francisco became the first major U.S. city to ban plastic grocery bags in large supermarkets and pharmacies. Several other cities in the U.S. and abroad have legislation on the tables that may soon cause them to follow suit.

It isn't difficult to find your own ways of re-purposing materials to make art. Much of my own art is informed by and created from recycled materials. We can all start on a small scale and make a positive impact with our work. Here are some examples of how I do it. Most of these things would have wound up in landfills. :

Frida Chair View 2
Delaine's Frida Chair

Altered Table
Small Table and Two Trays made from recycled tempered glass and discarded furniture

Altered Box -Glass mosaic interior
Treasure Box made of recycled wooden box and reclaimed stained glass

Shrine Inventory
Mixed Media Shrines - created with about 95% recycled materials

Isaiah's Throne by Stacy Alexander & John Freed
Isaiah's Throne - created with recycled lawn chair using Darjit! the sculpturing compound invented by Brent Sumner, from recycled paper and clay.

Other uses of repurposed materials in art are:

Recycled glass mosaics

Art Dolls by Tricia Anders

Brian Dettmer, altered books

Architectural applications of recycled materials

Garden Art

Aid the cause. See what ideas can you come up with.

Andy Goldsworthy from "Rivers and Tides"

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