Darcy Lundgren — designer, artist and co-owner of DaDe Art & Design Lab — has certainly made good use of his junk mail. He created a custom piece a few years ago out of shredded postal refuse glued and layered onto a canvas, which he then drizzled with paint. The result was a textural painting that gave rise to a whole show of works in a similar style.
The exhibit’s title, “Environment,” has a couple of meanings. The first, and most immediately apparent as you tour the 20 or so canvasses by Lundgren, is environmental awareness — turning something wasteful into a work of art.
“The epitome of what I see as a negative for the planet are things like empty water bottles and junk mail,” explains Lundgren. Referring to that first catalyzing painting, he says, “It’s all junk mail minus newsprint and recycled paper, and it just started developing with layers of paint and layers of paper all combining.”
“Environment” also refers to our surroundings. “I starting thinking about not just being environmental, but what’s going in our little bubble right now,” says Lundgren. This train of thought underpinned another artistic choice you’ll see in many canvasses — stencilled symbols, such as “&” and “#,” layered on top of the multicoloured swoops of paint. “Symbols for words are becoming so much the way we communicate back and forth on our cellphones,” explains Lundgren.
Amid the paintings, which were all executed in a similar style but with varied results, the standout piece is one that Lundgren created several years ago called “H2O.” The tall, chandelier-like sculpture is premised on the reuse of another disposable item — glass Evian water bottles. The striking piece is a good fit for both uses of the term “Environment,” not only because of the number of bottles ending up in landfills, but also because of their ubiquity in contemporary consumer culture.
Some of the inspiration for the show came from a recent trip to the Wynwood Arts District in Miami, Florida. While Lundgren had already developed his junk mail technique, he saw kindred approaches to art at the Wynwood galleries. “I found a lot of artists down there are very much in this kind of vocabulary movement as well, where they’re taking found objects, recycling objects, salvaging objects, taking old floppy disks — you name it,” he explains. “It’s fresh and unique. There are so many different things nowadays that have become irrelevant that were very relevant 10 or 20 years ago that are still floating around, like VHS tapes and things like that.”
He adds, “It’s kind of like seeing our world in a different way, seeing things that we used before so readily, completely reinterpreted in a different way. For me, there’s beauty in everything if you try to look for it.”