Sarah Wolf Newlands’ work made from assembled discarded materials positions an interplay between the formal qualities of the composed object and the “thingness” (Heidegger, Bennett) of the raw materials used to create it. Composed discarded textiles and ceramics retain qualities of their former character evoking questions about their original character. Their transformation into works of art proposes a concurrent, and sometimes incongruous, narrative to the materials.
Wolf Newlands’ processes sometimes evoke the original making of these textile items: sewing, stitching, weaving, crocheting, wrapping, and binding. Her work makes a space for grief and humor while reminding us that human life involves an unavoidable cycle of consumption and waste.
When in use in our daily lives, the materiality of plastic products (windows, pens, car parts, laundry baskets, garbage cans, handles) remains covert or even invisible. Once broken and discarded, the merchandise becomes visible as waste. Plastic shards in “Color Study” are reinvigorated, and re-presented as a work of art, yet serve as uncomfortable reminders of our persistent and global accumulation of plastic waste.
Wolf Newlands work conveys her fascination with the human relationship with the material world. Archeologists excavate garbage heaps of the past in order to determine key facets of cultures. She excavates, collects, organizes and transforms materials from the waste stream, then shapes them into stories.
Bennett, Jane. “Powers of the Hoard: Further Notes on Material Agency” in Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: Ethics and Objects, ed. Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome, 237-69. Washington, DC: Oliphaunt Books, 2012.
DeLillo, Don. “Underworld.” New York, NY: Scribner, 1997.
Gendlin, E.T. (1967). An analysis of What is a thing? In M. Heidegger, What is a thing? (W.B. Barton & V. Deutsch, Trans.), pp. 247-296. Chicago: Henry Regnery. From http://www.focusing.org/gendlin/docs/gol_2041.html
Levine, Joseph E., et al. The Graduate. 40th anniversary ed., Beverly Hills, CA, MGM DVD : Distributed by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, 2007.
Wolf Newlands, Sarah. “Shopped.” Gallery 299, Neuberger Hall, Portland State University, Portland, OR, 2003.