We've seen time and time again that 'waste' is a concept, an attitude borne out of a disposable, 'throwaway' culture that sees things as single-use objects, when in fact, we could adopt a more cyclical way of looking at things through better design, reusing things and consuming less.
France-based artist Stephanie Kilgast makes the point of combatting that disposable mentality pretty clear in her vibrant sculptures, which incorporate everyday discarded items like tin cans, glass jars and ceramic plates, and paired with delicate and brilliant renditions of natural organisms like corals, fungi and plants in polymer clay -- all carefully shaped with hand tools.
My work is an ode to life, where plants and mushrooms meet insects, animals and minerals. These encounters develop in a colorful vortex of diversity, and this erratic growth develops on found objects, in a dialogue between humanity and nature. Both are intrinsically linked and separated by humans via an artificial tar barrier. By destroying our environment, we are destroying ourselves.
The powerful, cyclical nature of nature is an ever-present theme in Kilgast's works, writ small: rainbow-coloured fungi seem to overtake this human detritus, almost like they are breaking it down into tinier parts. Animals rise out of oil spilling out of these vessels, as if to say that nature's penchant for renewal will supercede all.
There are themes too of how plants might be more intelligent than we might think, says Kilgast:
The objects I use are second hand or garbage, the most direct and visible impact of human activities on our planet. The plants are watching us, waiting to see if we will manage the environmental crisis we have created. Yet science, art and abstract thinking give human life a reason to be. It is up to us to find a balance between our need for intellectual and cultural fulfillment without destroying our own home.
Whimsical works like these ultimately remind us that nature will always win; we are a part of nature, not apart, and by cultivating a throwaway culture, we are throwing away a vital part of ourselves that needs to be treasured instead. To see more, visit Petit Plat, YouTube and Instagram.