Artwork Detail

Accessories to an Event
2006
American, b. 1960
Postconsumer reprocessed plastics and stainless steel hardware
University purchase, Bixby Fund, and with funds from the Weil Family, 2006
WU 2006.0004
Feel free to touch or sit on this geometrically shaped sculpture by the Chicago-based artist Dan Peterman. In this work, titled Accessories to an Event, Peterman uses reprocessed, postconsumer plastic and stainless steel hardware. The artist has been working in this style, known as “adaptive reuse,” for many years. Specially commissioned for the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum’s Florence Steinberg Weil Sculpture Plaza, Peterman’s work exists in an intermediary position between art object and furniture designed for public use. In addition to blurring the boundary between art and design, his sculpture can be read as a form of political commentary concerning the exhaustion of goods and resources in late-capitalist society. Accessories to an Event is made up of six combinations of rectangular forms, colored a shade of gray that approximates the concrete plaza on which is it sits. Its simplified form recalls Minimalist art of the 1960s, which consisted of single or repeated geometric forms industrially produced or built by skilled workers following an artist’s instructions. In Peterman’s rational composition, each unit is paired: there are two structures in the center, two flanking the center, and two on the ends, each appearing as an inversion of the other. The stark, judicious approach of Minimalism is evoked in this work but is notably altered by the artist’s driving interest in environmental activism and the reuse of material waste. [Cell phone tour, 2019]