Syracuse University Libraries participate in the University of Toronto Museum of Art exhibit on plastics


Several artifacts from the Plastics Artifact Collection of the Syracuse University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) are currently on display at the University of Toronto Art Museum’s exhibit entitled: Plastic heart: surface all the way through. The exhibition, which is open from September 8th to November 20th, is based on the existing work of the Synthetic Collective, an interdisciplinary collaboration between visual artists, cultural workers and scientists based in Canada. The exhibition features data visualizations, 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 exhibition also features historical installations, including those on loan from the SCRC, and objects that previously used plastics, which are now decaying and raising questions of conservation and preservation in museum culture. This exhibition sheds light on the connections between scientific and artistic methods and challenges the viewer to explore how art-based ways of thinking and working can make sustainable contributions to environmental science and activism.

Image credit: Synthetic Collective

The SCRC’s Curator of Plastics and Historical Artifacts, Courtney Asztalos, will attend the Plastic heart Exhibition of public programming as part of the panel discussion “Dialog # 3: The Plastic Conservation Conundrum: Preserving Plastics in Museum Collections and Plastics’ Durability in the Environment” on Wednesday, October 13th, 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm EDT. Asztalos says: “The pioneering work of the Synthetic Collective in their experimental exhibition” Plastic heart: surface all the way through brings the necessary awareness of the life cycle of plastics in exhibitions, art and collections and suggests exciting alternative models and methods for change. I am pleased to take part in a conversation about how plastic cultural artifacts present unique challenges and opportunities in the context of special collections, and I underline that the SCRC’s plastic collections are rich resources for researchers and artists to research for activism and for creating new ones Scholarships to discover and make art. As a curator for special collections, I am committed to creating greater public awareness of how our collections can support innovation, change and the ability to act in our current global plastic pollution crisis. “

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

More information about the Plastic heart For information on the exhibition, public program, and registration, visit the University of Toronto Art Museum website.

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