Shari Mendelson makes hand-made sculptures that are constructed out of discarded plastic bottles and inspired by ancient vessels. Her interest lies in the balance between emulating the ancient objects that she loves and creating her own original sculptures.
Mendelson spends hours studying ancient artifacts in books and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. While looking at these pieces she considers what they were used for, the people who made them, and what the culture of their time was like. She ponders about the great civilizations that have risen and fallen and what the remaining objects from our time will say about us to future civilizations – other than that we created huge amounts of plastic trash. Her favorite objects act as a touchstone for a sort of time travel. They offer a visceral connection to the maker — the years between a 1st Century BCE glass vessel and today melt away.
Back in her Brooklyn studio, Mendelson reinterprets these pieces using discarded plastic water, soda, and juice bottles. Mendelson collects, cuts into pieces, and hot-glues or sews the plastic parts into new sculptures. At first glance her work may look like the glass or ceramic on which it is modeled, yet upon closer look, a logo, recycling stamp, or expiration date reveals the actual material. Like the pieces she emulates, Mendelson’s work might be beautiful, awkward, funny, or mysterious but for different reasons. Using plastic bottles to make works that reference objects of the past offers her a space to playfully explore the transformation of form and material while reflecting on issues of history and culture.
Mendelson’s vessels reside across public and private collections and museums worldwide, including The Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum (New York), The Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and The Museum of Old and New Art (Tasmania). In 2015 the Museum of RISD commissioned the artist to create a unique piece based upon the ancient glass collection found within their collection; this sculpture entered the museum’s permanent collection in 2015.
Dimensions: 16” h x 12” d x 12” w
Matierals: Plastic bottle pieces, acrylic polymer, paint, candy wrappers, glitter
Pink and Silver Vessel
plastic, hot glue, acrylic polymer, candy wrappers, glitter
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