I spotted a wall sculpture by Jessica Drenk recently at the Adah Rose Gallery in Maryland. The piece attracted me because it looked like osteocytes, a type of bone cell that I’ve featured before in my paintings. It took several more glances before I realized that these particular cells were, in fact, made of rolls of toilet paper.
As it turns out, this is exactly Drenk’s oeuvre – taking common, manufactured items and transforming them back into the building blocks of nature. In addition to toilet paper, she has used pencils, books, mop heads, Q-tips, coffee filters and PVC pipe to create familiar yet unfamiliar versions of natural forms, from rock formations to nerve cells.
As she describes her work: “By transforming familiar objects into nature-inspired forms and patterns, I examine how we classify the world around us. Manufactured goods appear as natural objects, something functional becomes something decorative, a simple material is made complex, and the commonplace becomes unique. In changing books into fossilized remnants of our culture, or in arranging elegantly sliced PVC pipes to suggest ripple and wave patterns, I create a connection between the man-made and the natural.” (source)
Her work is currently on view in a group show at the Seager Gray Gallery in California and will be featured in a solo show at the Adah Rose Gallery in Kensington, MD next month. You can see lots more at her website.