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Minet’s Beasts of Burden Roam USC’s Gyre: The Plastic Ocean through 10/10/15

October 5, 2015

Cynthia Minet, “Predator: Falcon”, 2014, post-consumer plastic, fasteners, LEDs.

While some people think that contemporary art is garbage, the current show at USC is made of garbage–literally.


And in so doing, the show asks, how can we humans fathom the enormous magnitude of plastic we consume and discard– 10-20 million tons of which end up in the oceans each year according to World Watch:

“Approximately 10–20 million tons of plastic end up in the oceans each year. A recent study conservatively estimated that 5.25 trillion plastic particles weighing a total of 268,940 tons are currently floating in the world’s oceans. This plastic debris results in an estimated $13 billion a year in losses from damage to marine ecosystems, including financial losses to fisheries and tourism as well as time spent cleaning beaches. Animals such as seabirds, whales, and dolphins can become entangled in plastic matter, and floating plastic items—such as discarded nets, docks, and boats—can transport microbes, algae, invertebrates, and fish into non-native regions, affecting the local ecosystems.”

(Of course we are all sure it is NOT MY PLASTIC.)

How can these numbers be conveyed in a meaningful way — meaningful in that they have an impact so that we as individuals begin to take responsibility?


Over the years, Chris Jordan has done so with his images made from plastic pieces he has collected and which many know about from his popular TED talks followed by his viral images from Midway Island of dead and dying albatross who have stomachs full of our plastic pieces which they mistake for krill. As they cannot get the plastic out of their bellies, their bellies feel full and they starve to death.  Read more about Chris Jordan’s Trash Talk here and  about melting the plastic in the heart here.

More recently, a group of artists explored the lasting legacy of plastic by using found plastic objects as their media in their show Gyre: The Plastic Ocean,  a traveling exhibit from the Anchorage Museum in Alaska. The show is now up at  USC Fisher Museum of Art through November 21, 2015 located on the USC campus 823 Exposition Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90089. Admission is free and the museum hours are Tuesday-Friday 12-5pm and Saturday 12-4pm.


Cynthia Minet, “Unsustainable Creatures: Elephant”, 2014, recycled and re-purposed plastic LEDS PVC, hardware

“Beast of Burden” roams also at the Fischer through Saturday, October 10, 2015, showcasing work by LA artist and Moorpark College Art Professor Cynthia Minet.

Featuring  illuminated, life-size, mixed media sculptures of domesticated animals from the series “Unsustainable Creatures,” Cynthia Minet’s “installation draws upon the complicated relationships and dependencies humans have with the world we inhabit, in line with Minet’s continued interest in scientific and ecological issues. It also emphasizes the artist’s investigation of materials, and her aesthetics in successfully transforming found and repurposed plastics into visually compelling artworks.”

On Friday afternoon Oct 9, artist Cynthia Minet will lead my students (and you if you’d care to join us) on a tour through the museum to talk about the inspiration and the process of her work featured in Gyre: The Plastic Ocean and her focus installationCynthia Minet: Beast of Burden. She will describe how she found discarded objects on the side of the road, how she constructed frameworks and how some of the animals became  named.


Cynthia Minet, 2014, recycled and re-purposed plastic, LEDs PVC, hardware


These shows have been written about extensively in the press. Read more about the USC show here in “Haunting Art”.

And here ” The Plastic Ocean.”

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