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In “Nature Interrupted,” Erik Jon Olson uses quilted plastic waste to examine the effects that consumerism, mass consumption and particularly the use of plastic have on our climate, water ways and wildlife.
Each piece is constructed of eight to twelve layers of machine quilted and surged, previously used, single-use plastic. The “batting” consists of used pallet wrap. The thread is left-over from garment manufacturing. And his sewing machines are second-hand. He even saves all his scrap for future use.
Using this quilted plastic waste as his medium, Erik creates works that deal with the effects of consumerism, mass consumption and unfettered capitalism. By layering environmental issues with social justice messaging, his art emphasizes our alienation from the environment and each other, our willingness to waste, and our subsequent need for healing. By minimizing his carbon footprint in the creation of pieces and transcending the medium without denying what it is, Erik creates art that embodies Marshall McLuhan’s concept that “the medium is the message.”
Erik Olson grew up on a hog farm in northwest Iowa where, at an early age, he realized his ability to make things out of whatever was readily available. After earning a degree in advertising design from Iowa State University, he moved to Minneapolis and began a 25-year career as a creative in the advertising industry. In his spare time, he experimented with different multi-media approaches to create art. After retiring, Erik helped a friend brand a business that made functional items out of single-use plastic waste. He also helped source the used plastic and provided some initial assistance in product/process development. Knowing that Erik had a propensity to create from whatever was available, his friend challenged him to use his design skills to create art from the leftovers of that manufacturing process. Erik accepted the challenge, took the “waste of the waste” home, and started making. Quilted plastic waste proved itself a viable medium. Since 2009, he has won numerous awards and has exhibited and sold his art locally and nationally.
Erik works out of his home studio in Plymouth, Minnesota, where he continues to create large-scale works by quilting plastic waste.
May 2, 2022, All day