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Make Shift

When we think of plastics, we often think of Tupperware, kids' toys, and cup holders in cars. Plastics have come a long way since they were first invented in New York in 1907 by Leo Baekeland, who coined the term "plastics." Plastics are versatile, easy to manufacture at low cost, and used in a global range of products. Because of their ubiquity, they have begun to replace more traditional materials such as wood, glass, metals, leather, bone, stone, paper, and clay. As this shift toward polymer material has evolved, artists have evolved with it. With the development of more accessible and affordable 3D printing technology, artists have embraced acrylic material like any other craft medium--adding new techniques to their traditional toolkits.

In recent years, recycling and upcycling have come into vogue. Socially and environmentally conscious, this type of relationship to plastics, based almost completely on "re-use," presupposes that a creative use of plastics as a medium must be directly tied to conversations about waste, conservation, and the environment. While this is often true, the development of new plastic technologies has meant a shift in the life cycle of plastics, and a change in how we are seeing their value as long-term, sustainable components of our everyday lives. Plastics need not be disposable; they can be bespoke, permanent, and meaningful. Make Shift celebrates the creativity and ingenuity that artists are displaying in their use of plastics as a dedicated medium.

Artists include Jessica Andersen (Madison, WI), Jenny Balisle (San Francisco, CA), Troy Coulterman (Ontorio, Canada), Megan Eyssell (St. Louis, MO), Adam Foster (St. Louis, MO), Jacob Francois (St. Louis, MO), Arthur Hash (Providence, RI), Mirabelle Jones (Los Angeles, CA), Sung Ho Kim (St. Louis, MO), Qun Lu (St. Louis, MO), Kelly Miller (St. Louis, MO), Robert Thomas Mullen (St. Louis, MO), Nervous System (Somerville, MA) Kelly Nye (St. Louis, MO), Mark Pack (St. Louis, MO), William Archer Rimel (Chicago, IL)