Cut Away, 8”x 10”
Handmade by Bryan Northrup to accompany the exhibition Sea Inside: Visioning Single-Use Plastic at the Cellular Level
Using collected single-use plastic, environmental artist Bryan Northup attempts to blur the lines between appetizing consumables, anatomical dissection and everyday waste to explore layers of meaning in an age where plastics have saturated our environment and penetrated our species—both biologically and culturally—to the cellular level. The work in this exhibition is part mosaic, part painting and sculpture, all made from discarded single-use plastics. Organic forms and textures in Bryan’s work suggest perishable matter, flesh or food, likely to decay quickly, but because these objects are created with the permanent materials of plastic, they will never decompose.
Northup probes the occluded, the subcutaneous through cutaways and cross-sections, attempting to find how far plastic has infiltrated the “sea” inside each of us. Transverse sections force an interaction with ubiquitous plastics of modern life, perhaps suggesting surgical practice and precision while simultaneously manipulating our appetites for a delicious, if fanciful meal.
The compositions are constructed with techniques mimicking a sushi chef’s: rolling and slicing. Using three dimensional slices, or sections of rolled single-use plastics as mark making devices, abstract wall reliefs and sculptural works are created in an attempt to imagine how these very plastics are interacting with living systems at the deepest level. With this body of work, Northup hopes to record a material fingerprint, a time capsule, that implicates contemporary social values and attitudes surrounding environmental conservation, consumption, waste and how these affect our own bodies.