Trash & Recycle
at Shift through October 25th
Cynthia Hibbard looks at trash and ruined things and sees art and renewal.
Liz Patterson, Shift Curator
“I think a service we can all take on in our world is to make use of trash in various way so that it doesn’t end so that it doesn’t end up in a landfill,” Cynthia said. “If you make art out of it, it’s granted a very small thing small thing—but it is a tiny contribution.”
Originally a landscape watercolorist, Cynthia finds that the industrial location of her studio in many ways retrains her eye to see new beauty where others might see trash.
Recycling waste is not her only intention in her exhibition Trash & Recycle, as she brings an awareness and value to the forgotten, left behind, valueless objects that we often do not see. The location of Cynthia’s SoDo art studio has in many ways altered her artistic perception to include the patterns of industrial markings on the wall, for example in the freight elevator used by Macrina Bakery, and also the weathered dumpsters which might not have previously attracted her eye in the same profound way. As she often waits at railroad crossings on her commute to and from her studio, her eye travels from train car to train track, absorbing their visual literacy as a new landscape and inspiration for her current work. Originally a landscape watercolorist, Cynthia finds that the industrial location of her studio in many ways retrains her eye to see new beauty where others might see trash.
Previously, Cynthia had created art that speaks to the layers of time, inspired from travel. Continuing in this vein, she describes one series from her current work as inspired by her travels to Oaxaca, Mexico. Inspiration came from “walls that were next to historical monuments [for example] the geometric tile-work of pristine Mitla. What more interested me was an ancient building next to it where the walls were withering away.”
These layers create a sense of depth and breadth for us. They focus our attention not on icons of beauty, but the simplicity found in a man-made landscape.
In making colorful prints reminiscent of these walls, Cynthia uses a myriad of practices to get to the finished state. She prints monotype color fields on paper, makes woodcuts of the ruined walls, utilizes drypoint on plexiglass to give more texture, and lastly stamps with molding clay. These layers create a sense of depth and breadth for us. They focus our attention not on icons of beauty, but the simplicity found in a man-made landscape.
Currently at Shift, Cynthia reworks this concept in multiple ways. She recycles previously made work by tearing away, reversing, and reattaching. In another series, she recycles forgotten methods by utilizing silver, copper, and brass point pens (originally used prior to graphite), to depict bundled cardboard she found on the waterfront. Cynthia makes anew from torn-up oil paintings, reworked encaustic pieces, felt and steel, and “reused” drawings layered by glass. Most impressively, she seeks to bring attention to the history of the ampersand as a recycled symbol, paralleling the open-ended fate of trash – a significant theme of her show.
I love different materials, and I can’t wait to use new ones… I find it exciting to try new methods. “
Her ambition to find beauty in waste is also evident in the attention she draws to a weathered dumpster. She describes: “I sawed up pieces of birch panel and applied them to elephant board to create the different planes of the dumpster. I built that up with different mediums to give it a wrecked surface. “ With enthusiasm she states, “I love different materials, and I can’t wait to use new ones… I find it exciting to try new methods. “ In medium, Cynthia’s body of work on view at Shift through October 25 is as varied as it gets. But in concept, her work is clear, fixed, and made with an immeasurable amount of care and precision.