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Steven Siegel, "Scale" , 20,000 lbs of newspaper, Abington Art Center, Jenkintown, PA, 2002

Steven Siegel

The impressive trash sculptures of Steven Siegel build on the rich tradition of using garbage and found objects to create art. Large boulders of compressed cans and plastic bottles and multilayered newspaper ridges call attention to the abundant source material yet stand on their own as sculptural forms in the landscape. We are reminded of the new human geology of landfills. A type of sedimentary deposition of waste transformed by the artist into temporary pods and monoliths.

Steven Siegel's minimalist trash forms are richly nuanced with the weight of thousands of experiences massed into bundles. What is our aggregate impact on the earth? How can something as common and unconscious as drinking bottled beverages and using cardboard packaging generate something as massive as a public sculpture? It's as if Siegel uses our waste as punctuation amid pretty art parks and landscapes.

The artist also makes smaller finely crafted works that resemble potholders, insect nests or mysterious bundles found on the side of the freeway. They speak of a tidy assembling of facts to create beauty out of the scattered detritus of modern life. It is refreshing to find work that deals with the issue of trash powerfully while avoiding preachy didacticism. Steven Siegel's testaments to our modern world say what they need to say by simply being what they are. While not solutions to the problem of our growing waste streams, they elegantly call attention to our collective responsibility to recycle and deal with them.



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Article in Sculpture Magazine

© 2010