Art museum

Syracuse University Libraries Contribute to University of Toronto Art Museum Plastics Exhibit


Arts & Culture

Several artifacts from the Plastic Artifact Collection of the Syracuse University Libraries Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) are currently on display in the University of Toronto Art Museum’s exhibit titled “Plastic Heart: Surface All the Way Through ”. The exhibition, open from September 8 to November 20, builds on the existing work of the Synthetic Collective, an interdisciplinary collaboration of visual artists, cultural workers and scientists based in Canada. The exhibition presents visualizations of data, works of art created by the “Synthetic Collective” in response to their research, as well as new commissions from contemporary artists from the Great Lakes region. The exhibit also features historic installations, including artifacts on loan from SCRC, and artefacts that used ancient plastics that are now degrading, evoking conservation and preservation issues in museum culture. This exhibition sheds light on the links between scientific and artistic methodologies and challenges the viewer to explore how artistic approaches to thought and work can make viable contributions to environmental science and activism.

Image credit: Synthetic Collective

SCRC Curator of Plastics and Historical Artifacts, Courtney Asztalos, will participate in the public programming of the exhibition “Plastic Heart” as a member of the panel discussion “Dialogue # 3: The Plastic Conservation Conundrum: Preserving Plastics in Museum Collections and Plastics’ Durability in the Environment “Wednesday, October 13, 6 to 7:30 p.m. EDT. Asztalos says:” The groundbreaking work of The Synthetic Collective in its experimental exhibition “Plastic Heart: Surface All the Way Through” brings the necessary awareness of the plastics lifecycle in the making of exhibitions, art and collections while providing exciting alternative models and methods for change. I am delighted to participate in a conversation about how plastic cultural artefacts in the context of special collections pose unique challenges and opportunities, highlighting how SCRC’s plastic collections are rich resources for researchers and artists. to study for activism and to discover for the creation of new scholarships and artistic creation. As curator of special collections, I am committed to raising awareness among the general public about how our collections can support innovation, change and agency in our current global plastic pollution crisis.

“The Plastics Collection,” initially conceptualized as an umbrella term for plastics-related collections at SCRC, serves as a research and programming resource to advance the study and understanding of plastics in modern society. These collections include manuscripts, photographs, temporal media, books, periodicals and more than 5,000 plastic objects produced from the late 19th century to the present day. To learn more about SCRC’s collections in this area, visit the SCRC website.

More information on the Plastic Heart exhibit, public programming and registration information are available on the University of Toronto Art Museum website.


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