Kalliopi Monoyios

The Plasticene Exhibit

Art Students League of Denver
Jan 31 - Mar 15, 2020

The Plasticene Exhibit was a group exhibit I curated of 16 mostly Colorado-based artists who work with plastic but whose work is not about plastic. The idea was to show how integral plastic is to contemporary art and art-making, and by extension, how ubiquitous it is in modern life as a whole. 

Curatorial Statement, April 2019

Plastic touches every aspect of our lives. It is in clothing, housewares, toys, medical devices, vehicles and infrastructure. It coats our walls, transports our water, encases our food, fills our cavities, even prolongs our lives. It is such a hallmark of our time that geologists have joked that the current geological period, the Anthropocene, should be renamed the Plasticene. Yet the word “plastic” is equated with cheapness, both in quality of construction and value. Disposable things are plastic, cheap knock-offs are plastic. Why is this so? How has a material that in only seventy years has replaced all traditional materials in every application earned the reputation for being worthless? Shouldn’t it be the opposite? Shouldn’t it be revered?

In April of 2020, we will celebrate the 50-year anniversary of Earth Day, and it’s safe to say no one will be giving plastic any accolades. As we awaken to the fact that plastic’s long afterlife creates enormous problems like the Pacific Garbage Patch and microplastic pollution, we come face to face with the reality that plastic’s honeymoon period is over. But abandoning unrealistic ideas of life without plastic is not conceding defeat. There will be new generations of plastics — ones that solve the serious environmental problems posed by the current generation — and the Plasticene will no longer be a snarky punchline but an earnest description of this period of innovation and invention surrounding humanity’s most versatile material.

Participating Artists


Jan. 31, 2020 5:30-8pm: Exhibit opening reception and curator's talk at the Art Students League of Denver (ASLD), 200 Grant Street, RSVP here

Feb 6, 7pm: Junk Raft book signing and talk by ocean advocate and 5 Gyres Research Director Marcus Eriksen at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, $12 members, $15 non-members

Feb 7, 6-7:30p: Panel discussion on the past, present, and future of plastics with Marcus Eriksen, Steve Nash, Michael Readey at ASLD, limited availability, $5

Feb 27, 6-7:30p: Artist talk at ASLD with Laurie Frick, ASLD Visiting Artist

Feb 28-29, 10a-4p: Visiting Artist Workshop: Hand-cut Collage Using Data with Plasticene artist Laurie Frick at ASLD

March 15, 2020: Exhibit closes

Using Format