Gallery: Artist Stephen Shaheen Creates a Bench Using 5,000 Recycled Me...

In New York City, blue and yellow MetroCards are as ubiquitous as pigeons and taxi cabs. For most people, the little pieces of plastic serve a single purpose: getting from here to there. But for artists like Stephen Shaheen, MetroCards are a creative material with an endless amount of possibilities. For a recent exhibit at Sloan Fine Art Gallery, Shaheen created Metrobench, a sturdy, usable bench made from 5,000 recycled MetroCards. Every year, the MTA prints more than 170 million MetroCards, but, for Shaheen, amassing just a couple thousand was no small feat.

Shaheen’s impetus for creating the bench was the call for submissions to “Single Fare 2: Please Swipe Again,” an art show of MetroCard-based art. Most artists submit works that use the cards as a miniature canvas for paintings, but Shaheen wanted to create a sculpture, in particular, a seating element. Soon after he came up with the bench idea, he realized that he would need several thousand MetroCards. After a few failed attempts at getting old cards from the MTA, Shaheen took to Craigslist. Within a week, he had amassed all the cards he needed.

Much like mass transit itself, the bench represents thousands of different journeys converging into a single moment. And while the MetroCard is a source of movement for people, Shaheen’s creation is a place of rest. Metrobench has a base made out of steel, but Shaheen designed it in such a way that it appears to be created solely from MetroCards. The tight layering of the cards creates a brilliant striped pattern, and, as Shaheen notes, the different shades of yellow resemble wood grain.

When creating the sculpture, Shaheen described his process on his blog. “It is essential, in my opinion, to create a design that integrates the colors, and in fact each unit, in a way that makes the whole something more than an appliqué of Metrocards on steel,” Shaheen wrote. “The new pattern has to have its own identity and has to contribute to a sense of new content in the assemblage.”

Mission accomplished.

+ Stephen Shaheen

Via Yanko Design

Images © Stephen Shaheen


or your inhabitat account below