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 across various museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. While looking at these pieces she considers what they were used for, about the great civilizations that have risen and fallen who made them, 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.
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. The artist’s newest collection of handmade objects are layered, drippy, whimsical forms that serve as unique, “contemporary relics”. At first glance, her work may look like the glass or ceramic upon which it is modeled, yet upon closer inspection a logo, recycling stamp, or bottle expiration date reveals its actual material. Using recycled trash to make works that reference elegant objects of the past offers Mendelson a space to playfully explore the transformation of form and material while reflecting on issues of history and culture.
Mendelson’s vessels reside in various museums, including The Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum (New York), The Museum of Fine Arts Boston, The Museum of Old and New Art. Mendelson’s newest sculpture commissioned by the RISD Museum entered its permanent collection in 2015.
Materials: Plastic bottle pieces, hot glue, resin, acrylic polymer, paint
Dimensions: 19″ x 15″ x 15″
Jug with Handle
Plastic bottle pieces, hot glue, resin, acrylic polymer, paint
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