American artist Jane Slade pushes the case for recycling with her light installations made out of waste

Ecological concerns have been keeping many contemporary artists engaged with the idea. Australian artist Kevin Pearsh's ongoing exhibition “From Gaumukh to Ganga”, a series which captures the journey of the Ganga from its source at Gaumukh to Ganga Sagar, comes instantly to mind. Though, serious environmental threats facing the river are not depicted overtly but sensitising people towards the issue, Kevin feels, is also one of the desired objectives.

In fact, he even gently suggests it in one of his works, through the presence of a tiny plastic object floating in the river. Yet again, in a group show in the Capital, one remembers seeing a plastic flower suspended from the ceiling. Not only to show how it has inundated our rivers and oceans but the artist also seemed to put in perspective, the condition of materialism and consumerism, through the material.

Following the path is the American artist Jane Slade's effort, “Kaya Palat”, an upcoming exhibition with plastic at its core. Discarded Pepsi take-away bottles have been fashioned into lighting installations and lit up in a bid to transform an undesirable object into a thing of beauty. The young artist is driven by the goal of making worth of waste, inspiring others to recycle a plastic item into any product which can be used and preventing plastic from polluting the environment.

“Not many would know about the existence of the plastic islands in the Pacific Ocean. I didn't know about it either, till I saw a documentary ‘Blue Vinyl' which led me to probe the issue further. And then I found out about a huge mass, which is about seven million pounds of plastic, floating in the Pacific, which is double the size of Texas,” says Jane, who then gave up her career as interior designer to find an artistic solution to the problem.

“Human beings largely operate on the emotions of love and beauty. Every time we drink water or a cold drink out of a bottle, we do it because of what it is inside and we love it, desire it but we don't retain the bottle for that doesn't appear to be beautiful to us. The whole idea was how you can build something that one will never discard,” she adds.

The process comprises washing and cutting the bottles into different required parts, removing the labels, smoothening the edges with heat treatment or sanding. The cut parts are then fabricated into an array of shapes and designs: in the form of tear drops, large obstructive cylindrical lights and in the shape of jewels.

Powered by LED lighting, Jane's light installations occupy different spaces of the art gallery, that has been divided into a four zones — desire, anger, sadness and love, with each section having paintings by artists evoking that particular emotion. “In desire, behind the web of black ropes, hang a few works and in between there are these jewels.

They entice you to come inside and see but the ropes don't let you get in. In ‘Anger', there are a lot of references to ecology directly. An angry elephant, a man irritated for not getting instant gratification, a storm brewing in the tea cup which is a metaphor for all the unnatural material that's going inside while the effect of sadness is created by the blue diffused light in the form of tear drops,” says Jane.

(“Kaya Palat” will be on from July 26 to August 7 at Paintbrush and Chisel art gallery in Lado Sarai)