5/31/13 12:36 PM
What to do with the seemingly endless supply of plastic bottles, telephone books, soda cans, old clothes, out-of-date electronics and nearly everything else that our culture discards every minute of every day? Joeann Daley has innovated an entirely new form of art making as a means of dealing with one of the most intractable of disposable materials: Styrofoam. An expanded polystyrene that is both impermeable to water and an effective insulator, it was developed by the DuPont Corporation in 1941 and originally used by the U.S. Coast Guard to make life rafts; today it is the ubiquitous container of all take-away foods hot and cold. Unfortunately for this latter adaptation, it resists deterioration and continues to pile up in landfills. What to do? Daley’s genius has been to adapt thirty years of printmaking experience to the malleable surface of Styrofoam cups, bowls and trays, finding it amenable to etching with a simple ballpoint pen and a modest amount of pressure. The engraved surface is then colored using Prismacolor markers and strengthened with painter’s medium. The jubilant effect she achieves through this process—part stained glass, part illuminated manuscript—belies the utter humbleness of her materials. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Daley recently celebrated fifty years as a Dominican Sister of Sinsinawa.