For some of us, the growing clutter in our lives often results in tall stacks of unwanted papers or un-filed documents that migrate around the home or workspace. For sculptural installation artist Susan Benarcik, old newspapers and recycled papers are precious materials for her tactile sculptural pieces and evocative wall treatments. Part printmaker and part sculptor, Benarcik searches for evidence of life in the most basic organic materials and then cleverly alchemizes these finds into assemblages of deep patterning and hypnotic rhythm. The artist’s handmade elemental forms suggest new possibilities for sustainability, materiality, and our ability to adapt successfully to both the natural and built world.
New York City-based Susan Benarcik moves craftily between the realms of installation art and surface design, and with the keen eye of a research scientist, peels away our pre-conceived ideas about organic form and complex modern living. With the goal of “introducing echoes of nature into our everyday lifestyle”, the artist has upped this strategy by also recycling materials that are commonplace and ubiquitous. With cast-off book pages, old dress patterns and newspapers collected from various locales and dear friends, the artist sculpts her forms with the resourcefulness of a paper wasp and the attentiveness of bowerbird.
In Benarcik’s entrancing, ‘Natural Pattern’, old dress patterns from a friend are refitted to suggest the genesis of a hybridized creature complete with plumage. Benarcik’s, ceiling-suspended ‘Mental Notes’ (pictured at top) are actually pages from old books acquired over the years from various sources, collections, and friends. Pages are stacked like leaves and recycled into hanging chandeliers, aglow with haunting memories. The installation piece, ‘30 Days; A Collection of Disparate Memories’ was created from newspapers collected during a month long artist residency in Montauk, NY, and amusingly, the ‘Monica and Bill controversy’ is cleverly wrapped up and concealed in each vessel of the wall piece.
If anyone can demonstrate the virtues of saving, collecting, stacking, stringing, layering, re-weaving, and assembling en mass, it is Benarcik and her transformation of private and public spaces with domestic flotsam and cast-off news. Look for Susan Benarcik’s surface designs on accessories and products that she also intends to create for the home textile and fashion market. Proof that art and design keep cross-pollinating in interesting ways as we push forward with nature-based methods and the overflow of reclaimed materials.