While print media saw a decline in the 2000’s, it seems that print mailers didn’t follow suit. It’s estimated that the average American receives about 41 pounds of junkmail per year. The cost to discard this nuisance is high and in general is a wasteful practice. Unfortunately, most junkmail is difficult, if not impossible, to recycle and eventually ends up in the landfill. In an effort to reduce her own junkmail problem, artist Jaynie Crimmins takes this paper pest and creates art with it.
Inspired by her Eastern-European grandparents, Crimmins was taught to reuse as much as possible, and try to reduce waste. By folding and rolling the colorful paper mailers, Crimmins creates small bead-like pieces. She then arranges thousands of them over an armature (rigid structure) to create beautiful 3-dimensional sculptures. Much of her work has an organic feel to it, with shapes and textures that seem to be derived from microscopic organisms. Though most of her work is no larger than a square foot, the amount of detail makes each piece its own little landscape.
Every piece is an act of reclaiming the power dynamic between the marketers, the environment, and Crimmins herself. According to Crimmins, “Combining this sensibility with the shredding of junk mail illuminates the physical acts of deconstructing and repurposing. I feel a responsibility to up-cycle the materials that have been imposed upon me by marketers. The power of transformation, frugality, ingenuity and handmade quality drive my practice.”
Beyond armature work, Crimmins has created a series of works using natural forms as armature, covering twigs, specifically those with galls on them, with rolled up paper. She has also collaborated with fashion designer Cynthia Holder, creating accessories and textiles that reflect on unverified information. At a distance, the fabric looks much like a traditional textile, however upon closer inspection, it is made of thousands of tiny pieces of paper.
Crimmins’ current work departs from her older work by choosing to use a single catalogue rather than accumulated junkmail. Crimmins states that this process allows “ individual pieces to reference a particular product, business or service, creating a cultural association that replaces manufactured notions with a personal vision.”
Jaynie Crimmins’ work reminds viewers that while each piece of paper on its own isn’t much, when combined with others in a creative fashion, something beautiful emerges. Likewise, while each of us is only one person, and if people can come together and help combat waste, we can make a large difference in the world.