Patterns of Consumption
April 1, 2022 - June 26, 2022
Plastic touches every aspect of our lives. It’s in clothing, housewares, toys, medical devices, vehicles, and infrastructure. It coats our walls, transports our water, encases our food, fills our cavities, even prolongs our lives. Yet the word “plastic” is equated with cheapness, both in quality of construction and value. Why? How has a material that in only seventy years has replaced all traditional materials in every application earned the reputation for being worthless? Shouldn’t it be the opposite? Shouldn’t it be revered?
Though much of the environmentally themed work we see that deals with plastic is about trash and guilt, the work of Kalliopi Monoyios seeks to reach people by embracing the complexity of our relationship with the material and speaking openly about it. By treating it with devotion, like the precious resource it is, she points a finger at consumerism as the root of our pollution problems, while honoring a material that makes modern life efficient and comfortable. Monoyios collects, washes, folds, and sews food wrappers into quilts that could be handed down through generations as heirlooms. She folds plastic into thousands of interlocking modular origami pieces while meditating on her wish for a solution to the plastic pollution problem in the tradition of senbazuru (folding 1000 origami cranes for peace). Creating beauty from a workhorse material that society undervalues and treats as disposable is an act of devotion and hope. Only when we fully appreciate how integral it is to our lives and our livelihood can we begin to change our attitudes about its value.
The body of work in this exhibit expands on Monoyios’s themes of surprising and quirky uses of plastic, all with the goal of inviting people to think deeper about their own relationships with the material. Featuring a combination of framed works, free-standing sculptures, large quilts, and installation, the exhibit combines single-use plastic food wrappers, PTFE dental floss, silicone contact lenses, and other surprising plastics (spoiler alert: chewing gum is plastic!) as fine art media. A small selection of familiar mass-produced items is also included in the exhibit in order to reveal the incredible versatility of this wonder material.
The exhibit will be open to the public in the Fine Art gallery at the Littleton Museum from Friday, April 1, 2022 - Sunday, June 26, 2022.
About the Artist:
Kalliopi Monoyios is a visual creative dedicated to communicating the wonder of the natural world to a wide and varied audience. After graduating from Princeton University with a degree in geology, she built her career as a science illustrator for the prominent paleontologist Neil Shubin at The University of Chicago. Her illustrations have appeared inside and on the covers of top peer review journals such as Nature and Science as well as in four popular science books, including The New York Times best-seller, Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin. Illustrating for such diverse audiences taught her the value of having a large array of media at your fingertips — everything from traditional media, graphic work, fine art, cartoons, writing, and even performance can spread science far and wide. In 2011, she co-founded Symbiartic, a blog covering the intersection of science and art, exploring some of these broad-ranging scicomm/sciart efforts for Scientific American.
In 2019, she was elected President of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators, a group of professionals who communicate science through art. Now, driven by the conviction that science communicators operating in all spheres are a critical part of creating a scientifically literate public, she is developing new avenues of public engagement with science via her own art and curated exhibits.
Community Art Project
Now through April 15, 2022
In conjunction with the exhibition Kalliopi Monoyios: Patterns of Consumption, the Littleton Museum is organizing a community art project to draw attention to how much single-use plastic we use. We are looking for students and groups of individuals to collect single-use plastic and piece them together into quilt-like banners which we will combine to create a large-scale public art piece that reflects our plastic footprint. We will display the artwork at a community event on June 15, 2022.
Time Requirement: 1-3 weeks of plastic collection & preparation at home, class time to piece together banners
Classroom Materials: scotch tape, masking or painter’s tape, ruler or tape measure, scissors
Due Date: April 15, 2022
Activity cards can be found in hard copy in the gallery or you are welcome to view them electronically in pdf format. These are fun ways to help visitors of all ages engage with the exhibit and learn more about the artwork.