Is it gauche to drink an espresso out of a spray-paint canister cap? It would certainly be unwise, and possibly toxic. Equally inadvisable would be using a tin can as a coffee mug or a rectangle of corrugated cardboard as a dinner plate. Tim Kowalczyk plays with these faux pas in a series of functional sculptures that are not what they seem. Everything from a pink Styrofoam saucer to a cardboard tea cup is meticulously crafted out of a variety of clay bodies, glazed to mimic the shine of packing tape or the waxiness of colored plastic, and finished to be dishwasher safe. For all the pleasurable wit of Kowalczyk’s trompe-l’oeil designs, however, there lurks an uncomfortable undercurrent of desperation that’s hard to swallow. People without money, homes or belongings often have no choice but to use trash to fashion their bedding and housewares. Kowalczyk playfully put these needs on display, leaving it up to the collector to decide on the ethics of actual use.
—Lori Waxman 3/24/16 11:58 AM