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Jerry bleem






At first glance, the crocheted and woven creations in Jerry Bleem's "In Lieu of Other Forms of Aggression" inspire a whimsical reaction. Bright flowers, colorful placemats, and intricate wall pieces appear humorously impressive. However, upon closer examination, the vibrant forms take on a garish, aggressive quality, as the materials of their creation--post-consumer plastic bags--reveal a darker underlying significance. The plastic bag, that polyethylene urban tumbleweed, has become so ubiquitous in daily life that we hardly see it anymore, and it is this precise exposure-based blindness that Bleem seeks to confront.

By creating flowers from plastic bags (which are made with substances derived from oil), he addresses the ecological concerns associated with the material; that is, he has fashioned nature from the very object that threatens it. In doing so, he also comments on the function of nature in urban settings (particularly flowers), which are manipulated into unnaturally perfect plots and gardens, ultimately becoming as urbanized as the plastic bags that one assumes are the very antithesis of nature.

Bleem approaches the domestic sphere with the same distress as the environmental. By fashioning everyday items such as placemats and blankets out of plastic bags, he addresses the depth to which these harmful objects have permeated daily life, as well as the public's blindness to them. Plastic--that is, oil--is here literally woven into the fabric of the home, the fabric of the ordinary, and Bleem aggressively urges viewers to take notice of the products of their own lives. Though "In Lieu of Other Forms of Aggression" speaks to a political and an ecological concern, its central focus is a perceptive concern: how do we make ourselves aware, truly aware, of objects that so easily escape our gaze? What are we looking at?