The Institute For Figuring Logo

Clare O'Callaghan

Blue Plastic Queen

Clare O'Callaghan's "Blue Reef." Photos from the IFF Archive by Francine McDougall (2009).

Clare O'Callaghan works with a single medium: discarded wrappers from the New York Times. Out of this unlikely substance she has crocheted an entire Reef of her own. We call it the Blue Reef and stand in awe of this supremely rigorous practice. No other Reef contributor has so restricted themselves materially. Yet by working within the limits of this strict parameter, Clare has found a path of immense creativity.

Clare O'Callaghan's Blue Reef pictuered here at the Crochet Reef exhibition at Track 16 Gallery (Los Angeles, 2009).

Clare adorns her coral and anemone forms with miniature pieces of plastic trash such as bottle caps, straws, the rings pulls from asceptic packages, and pieces of sterile medical waste she gets from a friend who is a nurse. Hospitals have now become a huge source of plastic waste and a major contributor to our junk-stream. Clare, who is a magpie and horder by nature, has been collecting various categories of her own plastic waste for over 30 years and stockpiling it in her garage. We are honored that she has chosen to recycle some of it into the Reef.

Clare's Blue Reef plus a single plastic Bottle Tree (the one with orange fronds) by Barbara Wertheim. Track 16 Gallery (Los Angeles, 2009).

Clare O'Callaghan lives and works in Los Angeles. She would like her work to speak for itself.