iris in the dark and in the light


Looking more deeply at plastic

This is my first mixed media piece in over ten years. The fan cover I found somewhere in the debris of urban life in San Francisco. When I was cleaning my workspace last summer I looked at it and thought it looked like the iris of an eye. Then I thought about how I could turn it into an iris. Since it has spokes that go toward the center it naturally has a way of keep materials inside it, but how could it be closed on the back side? It needed something sturdy but also something transparent, maybe acrylic plastic? I decided I wanted it to be enclosed all the way around so I found some clear vinyl I had lying around cut it into two circles and started stitching it together with fishing line into a bag.

I collect broken glass from car windows that have been smashed by thieves and bus shelters destroyed by vandals. I tried filling it with that but it was way too heavy, so I decided to try plastic containers. Every week at the grocery store there are items that are only sold in plastic clam shells and every week after the one time they are used they get put in the recycling bin. Only 9% of plastic gets recycled and the rest stays in the environment leaching chemicals into the ecosystem, washing down drains into the waterways and causing harm to animal, plant and human lives.

I connected the clam shell parts to a central plastic disk lid from a container and I sprayed everything with translucent sea green spray paint.  The pupil in the center is a mosaic of broken records and a broken solar camping light provides the light from behind and rests in a vinyl pocket.

This piece is a reflection on environmental reality inviting people to see the things around them that we accept as normal and question why? It is also an invitation to envision a more holistic future.

Written by jennalex

Artist and designer who explores the relationship between the natural world and the digital world and aims to create art and design that expands people's consciousness and creates meaningful experiences.

February 7, 2023