Waste not want not [Visual Art]

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alysia fischer, repurposed material sculpture, cressman center for visual arts

I couldn’t help but chuckle when I recently heard Alysia Fischer, the artist behind the new exhibit Consumed at the Cressman Center, say that she got her M.F.A. because she wanted to get art back in her life. But after hearing the range of positions she holds it isn’t a surprise that she returned to school just to focus on art.

Dr. Alysia Fischer is a native of Louisville, KY, but now makes her home in Oxford, OH as a professor for the Center of American and World Cultures at Miami University. Her impressive resume lists everything from glassblowing, jewelry making, religion, near Eastern studies and archaeology, which eventually led to her Ph.D. in Anthropology. She authored Hot Pursuit: Integrating Anthropology in Search of Ancient Glass-blowers as a result of her research on interpreting the artifacts of glassmaking from the Byzantine to today on information she found at the site of Sepphoris, in northern Israel. This ethnoarchaeology (the study of living groups as an analogy for understanding people of the past) started Fischer in investigating how people consume materials and the waste cycle that is produced because of it. Her newest target, the Rumpke landfill, led her to her new artistic work and advocacy against waste. "We need to think about what we can do with things that enter our systems of waste and question if there is something else we can do," said Fischer.

Consumed is Fischer’s innovative way of doing something else. Discarded inner tubes from old bicycles and tractor’s are manipulated and transformed into beautiful, clever and sometimes whimsical tactile objects. A grouping of tires while delicate in their finely cut patterns hang from hooks like disintegrating sides of beef.

Alysia Fischer, Chrysalis forms

Another piece resembles a sea mine that lies in wait for someone to touch its spiky valves. Not all of Fischer’s pieces resemble dark warnings to the current state of consumer affairs. “Progression” is staged like the lift off of a bird, which gives flight to the idea of reusing, repurposing and recycling.

In regards to her work, Fischer writes: "Denying the discard cycle so prevalent in American culture, I work with used inner tubes destined for the landfill.  The resulting objects reflect my engagement with the local waste cycle.  I work with locally sourced discarded materials in order to demonstrate their further potential.  As hybrid forms retaining their industrial history while simultaneously denying a continuation of those uses, the use of material is extended indefinitely."

Titling her show Consumed also has dual meanings for Fischer. “I’m consuming/using up the materials that I’ve already gathered and I’m consumed with thinking about the waste cycle and art making,” she said.

Fischer writes, “It is my hope that the resulting works will challenge the viewer to reconsider what they send to landfills and think about whether those objects may have value within another context.”

Consumed will be on view at the Cressman Center for Visual Arts until February 25th.

For more photos visit the new visual reader for the Bluegrass Region at artintheblue.com.

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