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Artist Spotlight :: Sasha Fishman

Posted on February 20 2019

Artist Spotlight :: Sasha Fishman

Show up till the 22nd of this month, few more days left to see it. Up at the VAC on UT Campus. Click on the image to view a beautifully designed pdf about the show.

Sasha Fishman

Sasha Fishman installing at The Visual Arts Center, University of Austin.

Meet Sasha Fishman, she’s a sculptor, plastic enthusiast, and amateur biohacker.

We are lucky enough to carry some of smaller sculptures from resin desk pets to jewelry in our store. When I finally met her I kept asking myself if there was anything she can’t do? If you can make it out this Friday she is a part of a group art show opening this Friday at The Visual Arts Center at her old UT stomping grounds.

“Oozy Rat in a Sanitary Zoo features the work of five artists—Sasha FishmanBrooke Johnson, Seth Murchison, tín Rodriguez, and Rachel Wilkins—all who are current or recent students at The University of Texas at Austin. The works included in this exhibition examine our human relationships with animals and the natural world, and consider what these relationships might reveal about ourselves.”

This show is up till the 22nd, if you haven’t checked it out yet you still have time and it’s free  Also, this group of artists is hosting panel on the today from 5-6pm. If you can make it out it’s being hosted at The VAC.

Handblown glass by Sasha Fishman

Sasha’s Handblown glass

This theme led her to lots of places, starting to experiment with more organic materials and physically led her to attend conferences at MIT. She then became more and more fascinated by biohacking and cellular agriculture.

You’ll see works of hers incorporating unsuspecting common household ingredients and medley of living organisms. “She works primarily in sculptural modes of object-making and installation, incorporating experimental media and living organisms into her works.” For this show her work presents the strange and urgent theme of genetic modification, probing its widespread influence as synthetic materials endure with increasingly longer lifespans.

“Fascinated by the human population’s desire to control the natural world, she examines material production, consumption, sterilization, manipulated growth, and genetic engineering, all of which gestures to the detrimental consequences that these artificial processes pose to the earth’s ecosystem and the sustainability of human life.”

There is such irony in our consumption for self-proclaimed wellness, the birth of more virus through sanitation, the onset of lab grown meat, how unnatural the natural world is becoming, and the commodification of super foods. These are just some themes that her work touches on. Below is an image of piece that speaks to well-meaning but destructive nature of health food fads.

Sculpture by Sasha Fishman

-Ms. Tumeric & her IV (horseshoe crab blood) – turmeric, freeze dried mealworms, silicone, urethane rubber, epoxy clay, paper, resin, aqua resin, steel, wire, foam, glue, sheetrock | 2018-19 | 55” x 20” x 80”

(this duo represents a horseshoe crab blood filled IV injecting itself into Ms. Turmeric, the weird microscope, who is filling with a chalky horseshoe crab blood and her ear is itchy because it is full of mealworms. A silicone horseshoe crab cast falls out of one of her orifices in the process)

“It’s 2019 and almost all coffee menus include a golden latte. This trendy drink contains turmeric, which has become a go-to for any in-touch millennial for its so-called anti-inflammatory properties, among others. Wellness go-getters have embraced it to the point that one woman received a turmeric injection as a treatment for eczema and died. These days, lots of extreme health fads pose as scientific facts that people follow like the rule of law. ” – Sasha Fishman.

Q AND A
with Sasha Fishman

— You are an artist participating in the fine art world and making products that you sell to people and boutiques.

How do you balance both? 

Now that I know more about the material, I think of my resin works as being even more relevant because they point to the excessive, synthetic world we live in. The process of suspending materials within a clear matrix is a weird form of playing scientist. I create a permanent composite of embedded objects that can never again be reached. In my mind, this is similar to how we are irreversibly embedding trash into the earth with all of the synthetic waste we produce. Each little resin pet that I make encapsulates the same questions of waste and consumption that permeate my work as a whole. 

My bigger pieces require a lot of thinking and research, so the items I make for sale are a way for me to make little worlds that don’t have larger implications. I spend a lot of time making each composition unique in the resin pets that I sell. Because the objects are colorful, it’s a way for me to make fun, attractive creations without having to think too seriously about it.

— Something we touched on when we met up was your own obsession with the material resin that you know isn’t great for the environment, so many of your pieces are resin-based. Are you doing some research into materials that you think could provide the same quality, if not, do you think you’ll still use it? What’s your relationship been like with resin at the start and now with everything you’re learning, has that relationship changed?

Last summer when I was living in New York in a small apartment, I was avoiding pouring resin in tight quarters, so I started making bioplastics and researching biomaterials. This is still something I’m actively doing, and I hope to collaborate with scientists in this field. My long term goal is to make an accessible bioplastic that has similar properties to resin. I’ve been researching the history of plastics, the issues surrounding its use, and efforts being made to transition away from our reliance on the synthetic material. I’ve been thinking a lot about how plastic is  made, where the items go after we use them, and how this affects the environment. This project has led me to the world of biomaterials. It’s totally changed the way that I think about my work and make art.

— Your map shows how everything is so connected, in this process of learning was there something that you were particularly shocked to learn?

Every single thing I learned was shocking!!! I got really excited about everything, and then it all emerged in the sculptures. In particular, horizontal gene transfer—the rapid transfer of genetic information between organisms, occurring outside of reproduction—was shocking to learn about. It’s the process of formation for super bacteria form, among other things. But we can’t have a PSA saying “BREAKING NEWS! WE DON’T ONLY TRANSFER GENES THE WAY WE THOUGHT WE DID!” So it becomes a question of how to inform people who already went through school. And that can be one role of art in society.  

— Are you planning on attending more conferences regarding these topics?

Absolutely!!!! Conferences are the coolest thing ever. I want more people to go to them. Seriously, if you are interested in a topic, google the topic + the word “conference” and try to go to one—it will change your life! 

— You’ve been playing with more organic materials in sculpture, I am more familiar with your shiny pieces and I’m curious as to what initially gave you the thought to start experimenting with mushrooms and things of the sort?

I had an internship with Kendra Scott, which was what initially inspired me to work with resins. I thought, “It’s finally here. The day when I can make my own clear things. This is too good to be true.” And it kind of was—the materials I was working with were very toxic. So as I learned about the harmful environmental impact of the plastics I was using, I started thinking more about natural materials as an alternative. Also, on a separate but related note, I think a lot about cyborgs, meat, futuristic gardening, bodies, what it means to be a living organism, and a whole other host of science-related philosophical questions. This led me to experiment with making living sculptures.

— What are some superfoods that you have fallen victim to?

SO many, one of my favorites is nutritional yeast. I’ve been trying to avoid dairy and have been substituting it for cheese. I don’t think it tastes great, but wow, it has such a bad name—and I love it. It sounds like such a supplemental/pretentious fad food. It’s exactly what you expect to see at a natural food expo, which was actually where I found it.

— Now do you spend lots of time in the shower examining your shower head and has it ruined baths for you?

Baths always freaked me out, but I do like looking for growing colonies of fungi and bacteria on my shower head. It was pretty humorous to learn that the one place we clean ourselves is actually covered in its own film of biodiverse filth. But it reminds me that I’m never alone!

— What are somethings you recommend? (this can be readings, podcasts, websites, rituals, anything)

•               Never Home Alone by Rob Dunn

•               Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells

•               The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life by David Quammen

•               What 13,000 Patents Involving the DNA of Sea Life Tell Us About the Future by Heather Murphy

•               She Has Her Mother’s Laugh by Carl Zimmer

•               Why Look At Fish by Ginger Strand

•               Synthetic Aesthetics by Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, Alistair Elfick, Drew Endy, and Jane Calvert

•               eXistenZ directed by David Cronenberg

•               Annihilation directed by Alex Garland

•               Poison Control – episode on Radiolab

•               On Ketamine and Added Value by Dena Yago

•               Explained (Netflix) – Designer DNA episode

•               Plastic China directed by Jiuliang Wang

Sasha Fishman cube available at Raw Paw

Sasha Fishman Sculpture available at Raw Paw