Shari Mendelson, Round Vessel with Long Neck (Gold), USA, 2017
Shari Mendelson makes handmade 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 original sculptures.
Mendelson spends hours studying ancient artifacts across various museums, especially drawing inspiration from collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. While looking at these works, she considers what they were used for, the great civilizations that made them, and what the remaining objects from our time— primarily plastic waste— will communicate about us to future civilizations.
Back in her Brooklyn studio, Mendelson reinterprets these ancient 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 resemble 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 in New York, The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and The Museum of Old and New Art. Mendelson’s newest sculpture commissioned by the RISD Museum entered its permanent collection in 2015
Materials: Repurposed plastic, hot glue, acrylic polymer, resin, mica, mono-filament, brass
Dimensions: 20.5h x 9w x 9d inches
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