Sunday, August 16, 2009

Press Coverage


Journalist Bobbi Lee Hitchon - Plastic Fantastic's FILTHY at Studio 34

Inna's photos for the Philadelphia Weekly

Interview with
Krisanne Baker & Maggie Nowinksi

“FILTHY,” a multimedia group show put on by the collective Plastic Fantastic, explores the ecological, economic and societal problems surrounding water. PF members Maggie Nowinski and Krisanne Baker sat down with City Paper to talk about the show.

City Paper: Much of the art in “FILTHY” incorporates plastic water bottles. What do they symbolize?
Maggie Nowinski: For me, the plastic water bottle is such a ubiquitous, peripheral image that we cannot escape. It’s an image that brings together all of the problems in the world — petroleum, the war, societal problems. Plastic is something that is extremely problematic in our society today and for our future on this planet. But water is paradoxical — we have so many problems in the world with getting people clean water, and here we are paying extra for bottles that are leaking poisonous chemicals into it.

CP: So why use the bottles in your pieces?
MN: They are so available that people are using them in their artwork. Turning something ugly into something beautiful, repossessing, and at the same time recycling.

CP: What made you want to explore these themes?
MN: This is the first time I am making a work that is topical. I have always dealt with my art from a personal perspective. Dealing with all of these water bottles everyday, it just made me think, “Hm, there’s something to that,” and eventually I allowed myself to form this concept around it.

I almost didn’t want to do it. I am someone who tries to live in a conscious way, but not so much through my artwork. In order to keep going, I had to keep asking myself personal questions: How does drinking water from a plastic bottle make me feel emotionally? Physically? Environmentally? It is a toxic, toxic concept. Not even thinking about the plastic leaking these chemicals into the water … all of the oil that is used to create them, all of the energy. It’s wasteful and dangerous.

CP: Your art explores the ideas of degeneration and regeneration. Why?
Krisanne Baker: My original thesis research was based in entropy — things falling apart. But as I was experimenting, I was picking up things out of the gutters — little pieces of metal falling off of peoples’ cars, and putting them in water to see how they were falling apart, generating sediment and eventually showing signs of life.

So I came out of that with this idea of something from nothing. I had these plastic bags [full of water] up in my studio for about a year, and after they had been sitting there for about a year I noticed that they had begun to grow some algae, and thought, “They’re not totally dead, there’s something here.” Even though things look like they’re falling apart, the energy is still there. I took that idea and applied it to water quality. Water is the universal solvent. I talk about water being the lifeblood of the earth. It’s in us, plant matter [and] even rocks. Things that we think are inert are still affected by water.

CP: Your piece looks like an archaeological sample.
KB: It looks like an archaeological sample, and it was. [Curator Dierdra Krieger] had collected some river water for me a month before, but three days beforehand someone spilled it. Before the sample got knocked over, I noticed that it grows not only algae but shows some signs of microscopic life. Knowing that that is the water that people drink — even though it does go through treatment plants — there is still a hell of a lot of stuff in there that the facilities do not filter out.

So we trooped down to the Schuylkill and got some more water. I had not been originally planning on incorporating trash. I had wanted this piece to be all Schuylkill water, but just looking at all of the crap that had washed up on the shore, it was undeniable. It had to be included. It’s such a statement about how we treat our water, and how much we need it. I hope that people will become more conscious about the waste cycle, how they deal with it on a daily basis.

CP: How did you become involved with “FILTHY”?
KB: Diedra and I were in grad school together. We never had the same teachers or anything, but we were both very interested in the environment and both ended up paralleling each other with ideas and materials. In our grad show, she did an outdoor exhibit — the dome (pictured) — as a com building exhibit, and I had done an outdoor installation, but I was using glass jars from the dump, stacked seven feet high, filled with water from different places. You could see things growing, falling apart.

That particular tower was called “Whats in your water?” in an online gallery of subversive ecological art. Instead of just looking at the surface, taking something for granted, I wanted to present it as something that people could peer through, see what they were really dealing with everyday.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


TH AUG 13 | event
8pm - 9:30pm

Performance by SHARP Dance Company

Screening of Running Dry

Lecture by Stan Laskowski, Philadelphia Global Water Initiative PGWI

The Philadelphia Global Water Initiative (PGWI) is a group of interested organizations and individuals committed to helping to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals for water/sanitation throughout the world. It includes among its members the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Water Department, Water for People, Aqua America, Pennoni Associates, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Uhl, Baron, Rana and Associates, the United Nations Association – Greater Philadelphia Chapter, Meta Quality of Life Improvement Foundation, Traveling Mercies, Keiyo Soy Ministries, the Delaware River Basin Commission, and Rotary District 7450. PGWI is always interested in welcoming more members.

Mr. Laskowski has been a senior executive, leader, teacher, scientist, advisor, and mentor during his career in environmental protection. Currently he is a lecturer/advisor at the University of Pennsylvania [PENN]. At PENN he develops and teaches environmental management and policy courses and advises students and professors in many Departments (e.g., environmental science, business, law, and medicine). His areas of special interest include U.S. and global environmental management, environmental policy, and issues related to the attainment of the U.N. Millennium Development Goals for water and sanitation. He has been and continues to be active in support of various non-for-profit organizations. In 2006, Mr. Laskowski, with other environmental leaders, founded the Philadelphia Global Water Initiative, a Regional organization dedicated to help provide basic water and sanitation services to everyone in the world. He was instrumental in establishing the Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGWL) at Wharton Business School at PENN. This businessoriented Institute will have hubs around the world, conduct cutting-edge research and provide training for the business and environmental leaders of tomorrow. He is also a member of the EPA Administrator's National Council on Environmental Policy and Technology (NACEPT).

Selected from Stan Laskowski's Syllabus.

See water section of the report on the environment [ ]

Readings one and two: for overview of the Clean Water Act;

4 basic elements of setting water quality standards



also see this site for two recent rules


history of EPA;

EPA’s latest report on the condition of the Nation’s environment;

EPA’s current draft strategic plan
read introduction and goal 5 objective 5.1 to get a sense of EPA’s strategic approach and specifically their overall priorities on compliance;

EPA’s budget report for 2009—see [ through page 40 for a sense of how EPA structures its budget;

for the process about how the planning/budget/evaluation process works and how EPA’s performance is tracked by Congress; [then click on the first two readings] for some views of the future challenges in environmental protection

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Spastic Plantastic





7pm $5.00

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Maggie Nowinski @ FILTHY Art Show

Maggie Nowinski:  Excerpts from Swallowed Multimedia Installation; Used Plastic Water Bottles, Audio and Video, 2009

Monday, August 3, 2009

Steve Pauley @ FILTHY Art Show

Steve Pauley:  Crushed Undertow, Engraving on Granite and Chrome, 30" x 27" x 17", 2009