The artists in Paper or Plastic? are in tune with the range of activities and motivations surrounding consumer culture. Their works appropriate, reference, and harness materials, branding strategies, symbols, and themes found in the market. Artist in the exhibition include: William Corprew, Mark DeRosa, Diane DiMassa, Jahmane, Richard Killeaney, Marcella Kovac, Philip Lique, Alan Neider, and Rita Valley.
Everything from a historic figure to an ecosystem can be branded. With Jahmane’s MLBK JR and MALCOLM EXXON, images of historic figures (who are often appropriated to brand political causes, campaigns, etc.) are combined with the logos and slogans of Burger King and Exxon, re ading “Malcolm Exxon” and “Martin Luther Burger King.” As a graphic designer, Marcella Kovac rebrands found artworks with stenciled letters. In the shoreline community of Connecticut, seaside paintings abound as a reaffirmation of that region’s environmental appeal. With Kovac’s piece, the word “Porn” is spray painted on a reproduced seascape painting. Through this juxtaposition the human desire to capture, possess and objectify beauty – whether the female figure or a picturesque landscape -- is highlighted.
With Paper or Plastic? the signs and symbols of consumer culture are torqued, critiqued, appropriated, and recontextualized, providing new lenses through which to see the everyday activities of consumption. Of course, art is also a consumer product, as are art institutions and exhibitions, making it impossible to fully separate these artworks or this exhibition from the very systems it addresses.