Lynn Aldrich: Magnificent Coral Reefs made of Sponges, Gloves, Scrubbers…

Sea Change (2003) by Lynn Aldrich. Sponges, scrubbers, brushes, gloves, plastic tub. 25 x 23 x 18 inches.

Drawing upon nature, art history, literature, theology and her observation of contemporary culture, Los Angeles-based artist Lynn Aldrich makes sculpture, wall constructions and installations, often using purchased consumer products.

Some of her most vibrant and skillfully executed works belong to the “Sponge” series, in which marine structures are built with items from kitchens and toilets. These sculptures are a reflection on the relationship between nature and our consumerist societies. They are also, interestingly, gentle instruments of artistic activism—reminding the viewer of their obligation.

Lynn explains: “Sea Change is the title of the first work in this series, made in 2003, when I began noticing how many implements used for cleaning were manufactured to look like living flora and fauna in our oceans. A shopping spree to search for brushes, sponges, scrubbers and scouring pads became a fantasy marine biology expedition to discover new specimens. The plastic artificiality of our production in the Anthropocene is at first seductive and playful, a stand-in for the extravagant bio-diversity of our planet.”

Lynn Aldrich

The artist continues: “But then the magnitude of our accelerating losses in the natural world takes hold. A living coral reef can be compared to a miniature Garden of Eden created over deep time. And we are the gardeners, responsible to clean up and protect what we did not create, but have received as a beautiful, bountiful, but fragile home.”

The sculptures are great exercises in perception, given the manner in which they transfigure the mundane. Lynn’s art on the whole, though often filled with humour and play, has an undeniable subtext of ecological concern, accompanied by a surprising spiritual longing. Like totemic reminders of our excessive consumption, her sculptures mimic phenomena in nature through artificial means; water and waves, flora and fauna, skies and galaxies are all strangely rendered in plastic, vinyl, fake fur or foam. This visual and conceptual tension between the natural and synthetic reminds us of the precarious condition of the human-made world and of our own temporality.

Lynn Aldrich was born in Bryan, Texas. She received a BA in English Literature from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a BA in Fine Art from California State University, Northridge. This was followed by an MFA from the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena. The artist has exhibited widely, with recent shows at Art Affairs gallery, Amsterdam, and DENK gallery, Los Angeles. Her works are in numerous notable collections such as MOCA, Los Angeles, the Los Angeles County Museum, the Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR, and the Calder Foundation, NY. In 2014, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Links: Website (lynnaldrich.com/home.html)

Lost Reef (2006) by Lynn Aldrich. Sponges, scrubbers, brushes, gloves on wood shelf. 17 x 15 x 16 inches.
Renew Your Reef (2012) by Lynn Aldrich. Sponges, scrubbers, scouring pads, mop heads, brushes, gloves, plunger on wood shelf. 28 x 15 x 18 inches.
Starting Over: Neo-Atlantis (2008) by Lynn Aldrich. Sponges, scrubbers, scouring pads, mop heads, brushes, gloves, plungers, plumbing parts, wood. 54 x 96 x 66 inches.
Marine Preserve (2010) by Lynn Aldrich. Sponges, scrubbers, scouring pads, mop heads, brushes on wood panel. 38 x 28 x 9 inches.
Octopus’s Garden (2021) by Lynn Aldrich. Sponges, scrubbers, scouring pads, mop heads, brushes on wood panel. 35 x 40 x 4 inches.
Ocean Eden (2016) by Lynn Aldrich. Sponges, scrubbers, scouring pads, mop heads, brushes, gloves, plunger, wood. 24 x 96 x 66 inches.
Biophilia (2007) by Lynn Aldrich. Sponges, scrubbers, scouring pads, mop heads, brushes,gloves, plungers, plumbing parts, wood. 42 x 30 x 28 inches.
Reef For A Warm Sea (2013) by Lynn Aldrich. Sponges, scrubbers, scouring pads, mop heads, brushes,gloves on wood shelf. 19 x 22 x 12 inches.

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FOCUS: Where I will bring to your attention a charity and a business operating in the artist’s place of origin or addressing their themes. These initiatives are not affiliated with the artist or their galleries. You could donate to, buy from or invest in them.

CHARITY—The Ocean Cleanup (Rotterdam, the Netherlands). They are engineers, researchers, scientists and computational modellers working daily to rid the world’s oceans of plastic.

BUSINESS—Unifi (Greensboro, North Carolina, US). They are dedicated to sustainability, making products out of ocean plastic.