Tiny but mighty, this powerful exhibit, Plastic World, by Mary Ellen Croteau, creates art from refuse. While plastic today is meant to be recycled, everything seen in this exhibit was collected by the artist, her family or friends. The works are simplistic and sculptural, eerily beautiful in a way that makes one reconsider a prescription bottle or plastic bag. Croteau weaves, braids, glues, cuts and fabricates her art out everyday materials; Endless Columns in particular is elegant and stunning. Collectively the works are approachable, even cheerful despite the dismal environmental damage they cause, in part because the materials are so commonplace. Practically every color in the Crayola box shows up, giving the art a childlike quality, and yet these works are anything but.
For those who are not on or near campus, Dittmar is a bit out of the way, but it is worth a detour. Include it on a visit to the Block Museum.
Plastic World by Mary Ellen Croteau
April 1 – May 5, 2013. Located on the Northwestern University campus in Norris University Center, Dittmar Memorial Gallery.