Check out artist Mark Dion’s New England Cabinet of Marine Debris currently on view at the Florence Griswold Museum.

“Equal parts performance, documentation, and environmental clean-up, Dion and his assistants traversed the New England coast to gather rubbish washed up on the shores. The refuse was cleaned and categorize like cherished relics. The display references the 16th- and 17th-century European Wunderkammer, or cabinets of wonder, which house exotic objects. Dion explains that many of these castoffs are attractive because they were originally designed to appeal to consumers. The bleached and mangled condition of these pollutants generates endless questions about their origins: Where did they come from? How long were they lost? Who did this debris belong to, or, could it have been mine? While these once-new plastics can symbolize a capitalist domination over nature by their artificiality, their patina now suggests nature’s response. What does our treatment of the environment reveal about what our culture values?”

Dion’s work is part of the Florence Griswold Museum’s fascinating exhibit Fragile Earth: The Naturalist Impulse in Contemporary Art. On view through September 8, Fragile Earth features the work of four contemporary artists — Dion, James Prosek, Jennifer Angus, and Courtney Mattison — that reflects the vulnerability of our natural world.

As exhibition curator Jennifer Stettler Parsons, Ph.D. explains: “These artists were selected for the profound message their works convey about environmental conservation. They transform natural and non-traditional materials, like insects and found debris, into art in order to make visible the human role in global climate change, and to reveal how our daily choices may endanger our planet’s future.”

NOW…DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE? Fifth shelf down, in the tall glass cylinders, second from the right? Flossers!


After the exhibit, be sure to pick up copies of Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind and FLOSSING. Both are now on sale at the Florence Griswold Museum Shop!

IMAGE: Mark Dion, New England Cabinet of Marine Debris (Lyme Art Colony), 2019, cabinet; wood, glass, metal, assorted marine debris; plastic, rope, ceramics, 103 1/2 x 50 5/8 x 25 3/8 in. Gift shop photo from the Florence Griswold Museum website.

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