Review of “Re:Purposed” — is the new exhibition at The John and Mabel Ringling Museum of Art on view February 13 – May 17, 2015

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“Re:Purposed” — is the new exhibition at The John and Mabel Ringling Museum of Art on view February 13 – May 17, 2015.Ten artists are featured, each presenting their creativity using objects that have been cast off, I.e., garbage, trash, junk, refuse, scrap.  Each artist has his/her own unique insight in using “found objects” in a visually thought-provoking way.

Aurora Robson’s beautiful sculptures of “repurposed” PET bottles (water bottles) is her way of interpreting the terrible waste stream of plastic bottles.  Her sculptures are colorful and breathtaking.

Nick Cave has “Soundsuits” on display, which are part sculpture, part costume and part performance art.  The Soundsuits are made of objects found in flea markets and antique malls, and when worn, they hide the features of the wearer.  Mr. Cava has stated that once he is disguised in a Soundsuit, it is liberating and he can become “something other,” free from the biases of race, class and gender.

Daniel Rosin is presenting one of the most amazing and  innovative pieces at the exhibit.  It is an interactive sculpture that changes and reacts to the presence of the viewer.  His piece on display is composed of 500 pieces of garbage, each with its own motor, and the sculpture moves in response to the viewer’s movements.

Vanessa German’s sculptures on display are created from doll parts and found objects in alleyways that people have used as dumps.  She refers to her sculptures as power figures, and points out that none of her figures has their feet on the ground.  Rather, they are raised up, and placed on pedestals to give weight and honor to forgotten lives.

Artist Matt Eskuche’s sculpture on display is a simulation of plastic bottles and cartons in glass.
He believes that sImulating consumer waste in glass Is a reminder that there is too much waste in the world.

El Anatsui is exhibiting exquisite wall hangings made from foil bands from liquor bottles, wire, and found aluminum.  Close examination of the hangings reveals how intricately the materials are combined.

Alyce Santoro has on display “sonic fabric” wall hangings and clothing she has created.  Her sonic fabric is made from old audio cassette tapes woven together with polyester thread to make a fabric.  After developing the fabric, Ms. Santoro found sound could be played back from the fabric and has since been creating sound collages digitally to be woven into her sonic fabrics.

Jill Sigman is an artist trained in classical ballet, modern dance, art history and analytic philosophy.  Among her works, she has developed her Hut Project, and has created a number of huts/structures from trash or “free material.”  Collecting waste where she builds her hut, she learns about a place and its people by the waste she collects.  The hut she is building at the Ringling Museum contains natural materials such as Spanish Moss and orange peels, and trash discarded by people.  She states she has no preconceived idea of what a hut will look like,  but that the materials she finds in a locale will tell her what to build.

Emily Noelle Lambert’s sculptures are colorful and whimsical.  As a painter, she wanted to make her paintings three-dimensional.  She creates her paintings using found objects and forms.  She first paints the objects she finds, and then assembles them into sculptures.  Her wall hanging sculptures are particularly delightful.

On a stretch of lawn near the Museum, Mac Premo has situated his “Dumpster Project.”  It is literally a dumpster containing “stuff” Mr. Premo did not have room for in his new studio space.  He did not want just to keep his stuff –it was stuff he wanted to keep to use in collage art.  Items in the dumpster are a mixed media assemblage.  Every object is numbered, and you can type in a number on a smart phone and read the story behind the object.

This exhibit of repurposed found objects is delightful and not-to-be missed.




Opening February 2015, exhibition will feature work by ten artists who accumulate, conserve, and assemble cast-off materials in distinct creative processes


Sarasota, Fla. –The Ringling Museum of Art will present a major museum exhibition highlighting contemporary artists who incorporate cast-off or disposed materials in their creation of new works.  Featuring the work of 10 artists—including established artists such as El Anatsui and Nick Cave, in addition to emerging and mid-career artists such as Jill Sigman and Mac Premo—“Re:Purposed” will explore several of the distinct trends among artists who consistently “repurpose” garbage or detritus in their respective practices.

Evolving from Marcel Duchamp’s early 20th century development of the “readymade” and continuing the tradition of assemblage, these artists reinvent non-traditional materials to create artworks, encouraging new thinking about the objects and materials that surround us.  Organized by Matthew McLendon, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Ringling, the exhibition will be on view from Feb. 13, 2015 through May 17, 2015 and feature the work of the following artists:

  • El Anatsui (Ghana, b. 1944)
  • Nick Cave (U.S., b. 1959)
  • Matt Eskuche (U.S., b. 1972)
  • Vanessa German (U.S., b. 1976)
  • Emily Noelle Lambert (U.S., b. 1975)
  • Mac Premo (U.S., b. 1973)
  • Aurora Robson (Canada, b. 1972)
  • Daniel Rozin (Israel, b. 1961)
  • Alyce Santoro (U.S., b. 1968)
  • Jill Sigman (U.S., b. 1967)


“Over the past several years, I’ve encountered a range of artists who, while working with very different materials and genres, all incorporate and reinvent cast-off materials in their creation of new artworks,” McLendon said.  “This practice of making art, which expands traditional assemblage, deserves more attention, and we wanted to bring a core group of these artists together and, through this exhibition, give them a critical platform and voice to introduce our visitors to their work.”


Showcasing approximately 20 works of art, “Re:Purposed” will bring these inventive artists together for the first time and will present their work across three themes: “Identity,” “Index,” and “Environment.”  McLendon selected these themes as points of entry into this diverse and complex body of work, which encompasses expanded notions of sculpture, collage, and monumental installations all made within the last ten years.


Each theme presents different aspects and motives for the “re-purposing” of garbage in discrete artistic practices, and they commonly serve as a reminder of our close connections to the materials we use to create and facilitate our lives.  As part of the Ringling’s “Art of Our Time” initiative, “Re:Purposed” will showcase artists who transcend traditional boundaries in both medium and practice and will serve as a platform for a series of symposia that will bring leading curators, museum professionals, and artists together in conversation about evolving museum practice.
“The Ringling is proud to present a robust program of exhibitions and performances that highlight the wide range of contemporary art practices at work today,” Steven High, executive director of The Ringling said. “Last year’s “R. Luke DuBois – Now” exhibition highlighted the work of an artist who used unconventional materials, often big data and complex codes, to create dynamic, mixed-media works; and with “Re:Purposed,” we are continuing that trajectory of showcasing contemporary artworks made of ‘non-traditional’ materials, and this time demonstrating the complex and powerful meanings imbedded in the everyday objects that surround us.”


For the theme of “Environment,” the exhibition will highlight contemporary artists who have used the re-purposing of discarded materials to voice concerns about the environmental consequences of late-capitalist consumption, as well as to propose alternative futures that redefine people’s relationship with garbage.  An especially prominent work will be choreographer and artist Jill Sigman’s site-specific piece for her ongoing The Hut Project (2009 – present), for which, Sigman creates huts made from found materials that she collects in each project location.  To create “The Hut Project” for The Ringling, Sigman will spend several weeks in Sarasota, FL, collecting materials from across the area to compile for the new work.  This project also represents the second iteration of the Ringling’s “Art of Our Time” artist-in-residency program, which R. Luke DuBois participated last year in support of his first major museum survey exhibition presented by The Ringling this past spring.


For “Identity,” McLendon has selected artists whose works underscore our construction of identities and personae through the collecting of objects, whether bought or scavenged.  A selection of Soundsuits constructed by Nick Cave out of objects collected at flea markets and antique shops, and complex sculptures created by visual and performance artist Vanessa German from materials such as vintage matchbox covers and whiskey stirrers, will illustrate how the “object biography”—or the accumulation of biographical associations embodied by an object—easily become entangled with the biographies of both the artist who adopts and re-uses them and the viewers that encounter them in an entirely new form.
Extending from the concept of “Identity” is “Index”, which will be explored through works that demonstrate the profound indexical nature of the objects that people cast-off and discard.  A particularly notable example will be the installation of Mac Premo’s monumental work, “The Dumpster Project”.  Triggered by his need to move to a smaller studio, Brooklyn-based artist Mac Premo has catalogued and photographed nearly 500 objects that he has collected for his collage practice over the past decade—including everything from a diving mask to a baseball Yarmulke—and he has installed these objects as one monumental collage piece in a 30-yard dumpster.  For Re:Purposed, Premo will visit The Ringling and install the dumpster on the grounds of the museum, inviting visitors to enter the dumpster and explore the large-scale piece at their own pace.

Exhibition Catalogue and Programs

A fully illustrated catalogue published by Scala Arts Publishers, Inc. will accompany the show and features an introduction by Matthew McLendon, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Ringling; and interviews with the artists featured in Re:Purposed.


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Art of Our Time
“Art of Our Time” at the Ringling Museum of Art is an initiative dedicated to presenting cross-disciplinary exhibitions and performances that explore the diverse ideas and forms at play in the contemporary arts today.  Through the “Art of Our Time,” the Ringling promotes a holistic understanding of contemporary artistic practices and showcases artists that transcend genres.  Building on the legacy of the Ringling’s first executive director A. Everett “Chick” Austin, Jr., the “Art of Our Time” comprises an ever-evolving roster of programming that engages audiences through direct interactions with art that defies traditional categorization.
General Admission includes the Ringling Museum of Art, special exhibitions, Ca’ d’Zan Mansion, Circus Museum, and Mable’s historic Rose Garden, all on 66 acres of lushly landscaped grounds. Adults are $25; senior citizens (65 and over) are $20; children ages 6-17 are $5; a three-day pass is $35.  Free Admission for children 5 and under accompanied by an adult, museum member.  Advance tickets are available online or by calling 941.358.3180. Visit for more information.


The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Florida State University, is one of the largest museum/university complexes in the nation.  It preserves the legacy of John and Mable Ringling, educating and enabling a large and diverse audience to experience and take delight in a world-renowned collection of fine art; Ca’ d’Zan, the Ringling’s mansion; the Circus Museum; the Historic Asolo Theater; and historic architecture, courtyard, gardens and grounds overlooking Sarasota Bay.

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