From Flatware to Sculpture – Only at the Montclair Art Museum

The museum is currently collecting utensils to be used in an upcoming exhibit.


Utensils can be used for more than just eating -- at least that’s what the Montclair Art Museum believes. 

Instead of relegating flatware to the world of domesticity and kitchen tables, the museum is preparing to use forks, spoons, knives and more for a sculpture that will grace the museum’s collection. The sculpture will be created by Jean Shin, a contemporary artist based in Brooklyn, N.Y. 

“I thought she would be a great fit for us,” said Alexandra Schwartz, curator of contemporary art at the museum.  

Schwartz said Shin will melt down the donated flatware and forge it into a tree sculpture, which is expected to be presented in September 2013. The sculpture will play on Montclair’s abundance of foliage and stately trees, and include the entire community in the process. 

“What [Shin] does is work with the communities in which she is having an exhibition to collect the raw material for her work,” said Schwartz. “Literally, the community is helping her acquire the material to make the sculpture.” 

Shin is interested in the idea of flatware representing family life, said Schwartz. “It has a way of speaking to people’s histories,” she added, because flatware can be handed down from generation to generation. 

While this is Shin's first attempt at using flatware for a sculpture, she has been involved in similar projects. 

In the past, Shin created a piece for the DeCordova Museum and Sculptural Park outside Boston, Mass. She constructed a tea house that was made out of those little red straws you perfunctorily use to stir your morning joe and then immediately throw out. In addition, she constructed a sculpture out of tea bags because the museum was named after a tea baron.  

Then in Scottsdale, Ariz., Shin made a sculpture out of discarded keys from the community.

Schwartz said Shin's project's are a "way to tap into the histories of the community." 

The Montclair Art Museum will be collecting utensils through the spring of 2013. 


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