Erik Jon Olson - Now What

Now What?


Erik Jon Olson
(Plymouth, MN)


Quilted Plastic Waste


50” x 36” x 5”


Artist Statement:

Using quilted plastic waste as his medium, Erik creates works that deal with the effects of consumerism, mass consumption and unfettered capitalism. By layering environmental issues with social justice messaging, his art emphasizes our alienation from the environment and each other, our willingness to waste, and our subsequent need for healing. By minimizing his carbon footprint in the creation of pieces and transcending the medium without denying what it is, Erik creates art that embodies Marshall McLuhan’s concept that “the medium is the message.”


What happens when we have wasted everything and all the places where we put our waste are full? That is the question we face when viewing Now What? The amount of non-biodegradable waste material that humans continue to produce is staggering; currently there are well over 2,000 pounds of plastic for every single person on earth* and 91% does not get recycled**. Now What? is also a comment on the amount of food we waste in that the bits of plastic used to represent the trash are largely comprised of food packaging. We must have the political will and learn to live differently before there are no more resources or viable places left to live.

Nothing new was used to make this piece. It is constructed of eight to twelve layers of machine quilted and surged, previously used, single use plastic. The "batting" consists of used pallet wrap. The thread is left-over from garment manufacturing. Even the sewing machines were previously owned. All the scraps created in the making of Now What? have been saved and will be or already have been used in subsequent pieces.