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Artist twists plastic bags to create spiral beauty

Michael H. Hodges
The Detroit News

If part of being an artist is the capacity to see possibility in the unlovely, Mary Adkisson’s got that insight down pat.

For the past six years, the Bloomfield Township resident has been making sculptural wall hangings out of other people’s discarded plastic wrap.

That potato chip bag you’re about to chuck? Adkisson has big plans for it.

In an unusual approach to the material, the San Francisco native twists colored plastic into tightly wound strips, ending up with surprisingly strong hues that look almost like they were painted.

“I’ve been told by art directors that my sculptures are really paintings,” Adkisson said, “even though no paint is used.”

Most of her sculptures are circular, with some resembling something like bright tree rings.

Re-purposing found objects and materials is all the rage these days of course, particularly with Detroit artists. But for most people, plastic wrap ranks as the lowest of the low.

“It is a little ironic,” Adkisson said, “but my point is I take commercial materials like these bags and make them beautiful. Because in their original form, they’re really kind of garish.

“And have you noticed over the past decade how much more plastic is used everywhere?”

In an unusual collaboration, for the past month Birmingham’s Robert Kidd Gallery has invited people to drop off whatever plastic bags they have, helping Adkisson collect a veritable mountain of lightweight trash that will go into her art-supply inventory.

The gallery is taking contributions through Thursday this week.

The Robert Kidd Gallery will host a reception for Adkisson from 6-8 p.m. Thursday.

(313) 222-6021

Twitter: @mhodgesartguy

‘An evening

with artist

Mary Adkisson’

6-8 p.m. Thursday

Robert Kidd Gallery

107 Townsend St., Birmingham

(248) 642-3909