Material Concerns – Part 2 – Resin

resin face

Working with Resin

I really enjoyed working with resin. My favorite variety is a two part epoxy that you mix equal measure, adding color, pouring over objects, or casting in molds. It’s so versatile and has a wonderful transparent or translucent quality. You get a clear almost watery end result. There’s no need for extreme heat as is required for working with glass. It’s not super fragile like glass either. It can preserve things that would otherwise decay and you can embed all varieties of objects inside it suspending them within it.

Even though I was using it intentionally to make a statement about the problem of plastics and pollution in the environment I had to admit that I was not helping by continuing to use it. The thing that made me definitively abandon it as a material was becoming a mom. I couldn’t be around it while I was expecting or when nursing my daughters and I could no longer reconcile the dissonance of making art with resin with the fact it was toxic to me, to them, and to other forms of life.

I made this work of art “Body and Earth” from a tray I found abandoned on the street near my apartment that says Body and Earth on the side and I filled it with Care-free scented panty liners on the left, plastic easter grass my mom sent me, latex gloves I used in the resin making process, and soil I found near my art studio. This piece specifically was to show the waste we create regularly and to contrast fake nature with real nature that has been preserved in plastic.

The trouble with it is that it is toxic to the user, it is plastic and won’t biodegrade and it leaches toxin residue that can cause harm to human health and to wildlife. Also you have to use protective materials like gloves and a respirator. All the mixing equipment becomes toxic waste that will end up in landfills. As my waste started accumulating I would save some of it and then create art out of that to comment on the toxicity. It seemed like a bad idea to continue down this path if my main objective was to convey healthy messages regarding the environment. So I abandoned this material but I still love the look of it and really appreciate the beautiful art other artists create with it. To be very clear, I do not judge artists that work with this material, it is a super fun material, it just conflicted with the my purpose.

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.

January 3, 2023