Martha Chason-Sokol’s found-object artworks create a sculptural scrapbook of her environment
Lots of creators turn everyday objects into artwork. Martha Chason-Sokol’s “Listening Works” keeps those found objects close to home in an exhibition at Gallery 263 – the Everett-based artist’s first solo exhibition in Massachusetts, and a delight.
Tape is the only material Chason-Sokol buys for her pieces as she focuses on transforming trash into vibrant, energetic sculptures that she calls both “characters” and “archives.” Since she recycles discarded materials yet also gives them new life, there is a tension between the anthropomorphic and the archival qualities in her work. In “Doll Face,” an old painting stool and worn-down shoes explode into an upright creature, supporting a cartoonish pair of legs. “When Pigs Fly” puts her family’s broken bread-maker on a pedestal of rocks – a cheeky memorial for a beloved kitchen appliance. Even as Chason-Sokol reveals her objects’ second lives, she hides them away in bright orange and pink tape.
Chason-Sokol’s process is reminiscent of artist Yuji Agematsu, a sculptor who collects debris from the streets of New York City for his tiny sculptures. Chason-Sokol’s materials, however, are sourced directly from her home, and while both artists contemplate consumption, Chason-Sokol’s observations are more personal. Her focus is not on societal consumption, but on the sheer amount of stuff one household can accumulate. It’s a sort of sculptural scrapbook of Chason-Sokol’s family. This is the stuff that makes up a life.
Chason-Sokol describes her artistic practice as “intuitive,” which means she doesn’t plan the sculpture; instead, she communicates with her materials as she works and lets surprising themes emerge. In one piece, Chason-Sokol poured pill bottles into a structure she created and arrived at a surprising commentary on the pharmaceutical industry. In “Plumb Pink,” bright pink tape transformed discarded plumbing supplies into a curvaceous contemplation on femininity.
Chason-Sokol is a recent graduate of Lesley University’s MFA program, and she is making strides to engage publicly with her new artistic practice. She recently wrapped up her “Beyond Words” group exhibition at Fountain Street Gallery in Boston’s SoWa Art + Design District. She also serves as chair of the Everett Cultural Council and is founder of Art Lab Everett, which provides affordable classes and workshops for the city’s residents.
- “Listening Works” is on view through April 16 at Gallery 263, 263 Pearl St., Cambridgeport.