Jessie Dunahoo
Plastic deli bags are the bane of modern environmentalism. They’re also virtually indestructible once produced and distributed. What to do with them, other than ban or tax them in favor of reusable totes? Jessie Dunahoo devised a solution long before the problem arose. Sight and hearing impaired from a young age, Dunahoo, who is now in his early 80s, first began stitching bread bags together when he was an adolescent, as a way-finding system to get around his family home. Over the years his practice has evolved and he’s become something of a connoisseur of plastic bags, assembling them by touch and smell into vast quilts of beige, yellow and white squares, printed with the familiar—and, in the case of older works, bygone—slogans of pharmacies and grocery stores. They upend expectations: of an ugly material and of the senses. A blind man makes a visually moving tapestry, and plastic bags have a smell.

—Lori Waxman 3/24/17 6:26 PM
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