Community | Artist Spotlight
Janet Nolan is an accomplished multimedia artist working in installation, assemblage, sculpture, and works on paper. Her works have been shown throughout New York as well as around the country over the last 30 years. Harvard University commissioned her work for two permanent installations on campus, "Nightingale", 57 x 11.5 ft and "Beam", 25 x 2 ft. She has installed temporary sculptures outdoors in Manhattan's East Village community garden and at the Art Center in Truro, MA.
"My sculptures are made from post-consumer objects using serial methods of construction. When I see objects repeatedly discarded, I begin accumulating them--such as hundreds of discarded umbrellas, lost gloves and wire coat hangers to thousands of colorful plastic bottle caps and plastic six-pack holders. I have no preconceived sculpture in mind when I gather these objects rather the nature of the object itself suggest to me form and content.
Through experimenting with the physical properties of the materials being used, structures and patterns often emerge which are similar to those basic growth systems found in nature. Meaning lies in transformation of the objects into something beyond themselves, something surprising and often amusing."
-Janet Nolan, 2015
When Nolan first moved to New York in 1976 after receiving her MFA in painting and drawing, she was curiously captivated by NYC urban detritus such as vast numbers of umbrellas discarded during rainstorms. The shape of the umbrella reminded her of the geometrical shaped paintings and prints she made in graduate school. So on the very next windy, rainy day, she gathered 57 broken umbrellas and took them back to her studio. These mundane discarded objects were the catalyst for her expansion into three-dimensional artworks.
She began making artwork from urban detritus before "green" entered our contemporary lexicon and has exhibited in numerous shows featuring art made of recycled materials.
Her latest work, as see in the photo above, is an assemblage of 6,123 cans found in New York City. Her process is quite unique - rather than collecting cans that are already flattened, Nolan acquires the cans intact and proceeds to lay them in the street outside her Tribeca studio where they are flattened by the city's traffic. In this way, the city does not only provide the materials for her work, but also aids in the process.