May 1, 2019

Artist Converts Trash To Art in New Show

“LAMBIE”: This junk mail collage is featured in “Re:fuse,” Aurora Robson’s solo exhibition running at the Hunterdon Art Museum May 19 through September 1. An opening reception and gallery talk are scheduled for Sunday, May 19 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Sometimes one man’s trash isn’t just another man’s treasure. For Aurora Robson, it can be art.

Robson’s solo exhibition “Re:fuse” opens Sunday, May 19 at the Hunterdon Art Museum, with a reception from 2 to 4 p.m. Everyone is welcome to the opening, which will include a gallery talk by the artist and refreshments. The exhibit runs through September 1.

Robson is a multi-media artist known mostly for her meditative work converting plastic waste into art. Robson’s art challenges our perception of matter. “Can artists serve a significant role in terms of solving environmental and societal problems? The answer is yes,” says Robson.

“Artists have historically served as the eyes of society. The impulse to make a piece of art is precisely the opposite of the impulse to throw something away,” she said in her TEDx Talk. “I practice revealing the hidden value and potential in trash by working with the vehicles and packages that deliver the things we desire to us.”

In “Re:fuse,” Robson uses laundry detergent, bleach, shampoo, and milk bottles; other plastic debris; and junk mail to create visually intriguing works of art. The exhibition features wall reliefs — including several new pieces — and an assortment of junk-mail collages.

Her practice is about shifting negative trajectories into something positive: Much of Robson’s art formally references recurring nightmares she experienced as a child. Robson noted that these nightmares typically consisted of this “never-ending looping knot that continued in every direction.”

In the negative spaces in those knots, various blobs would form and grow. “I felt like they were going to suffocate me,” she said. From the depths of those dark midnight terrors, Robson conjured up images to create harmonious compositions.

Robson holds a double major B.A. in visual arts and art history from Columbia University. Her work has been featured in Sculpture Magazine, Art in America, WIRED, Art & Antiques, the cover of Green Building + Design, and other publications.

She is a recipient of the Pollock Krasner Grant, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Sculpture, a TED/Lincoln Re-Imagine Prize, and a National Endowment for the Arts Art Work Grant.

Robson is also the founding artist of Project Vortex, an international collective of artists, designers, and architects who work with plastic debris. She is also the creator of a college course “Sculpture + Intercepting the Waste Stream” (SIWS) that she has taught at universities.

“My goal in making art is to give people an opportunity to reflect on their own perception of value so that we can all recognize that it isn’t just the letter, it’s the envelope that’s a gift,” Robson noted in her TEDx Talk. “In fact, all of this is. Waste is merely displaced abundance. Giving thought and attention and energy to matter is what makes something a piece of art.”

The Hunterdon Art Museum is at 7 Lower Center Street in Clinton. For more information, visit or call (908) 735-8415.