Quality-of-Mercy (photo by Marshall Coles).JPG When most of us think about art, we may imagine the classics such as Monet, Picasso, van Gogh or Degas and their two-dimensional art using traditional mediums like canvas and paint. Unlike these classical artists, Aurora Robson is a multimedia contemporary artist particularly known for her usage of waste-stream materials. Born in Toronto in 1972, Robson moved to New York City two decades ago and has been living there ever since. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in visual arts and art history at Columbia University, and soon after she challenged herself to develop a powerful artistic form that seemed relatively unexplored. Beginning with readily available materials, Robson was most interested in materials like PET. “I learned about the associated environmental impacts and found myself increasingly dedicated to intercepting the waste stream as a part of my practice,” Robson says. Because PET takes thousands of years to biodegrade, it is referred to as having “archival integrity,” meaning this material is the most appropriate to use since artists want their art to last. In addition, Robson believes the PET lends itself to be more cultural and social as opposed to personal. Hoping to engage with people that might not typically be interested in contemporary art, Robson believes art should be relevant to as many viewers as possible. In the process of designing her three-dimensional pieces, Aurora looks back on her childhood nightmares as a way to explore a complicated past. She explains, “It is a common childhood anxiety dream — they looked like a never-ending stringy knotted and twisting linear complex. From negative spaces between the lines, these see-through diaphanous morphing blobs would emerge. I thought they were going to suffocate me.” In addition, Robson developed a course called “Sculpture and Intercepting the Waste Stream” to foster the environmental awareness and stewardship through art. Robson will teach this course for the second time this spring while encouraging others to explore recyclable mediums as well. Robson is also the founder of Project Vortex, a growing international collaboration of artists dedicated to working with other debris materials. The main goal is protect these valuable resources while broadening the network for others that are interested. In the meantime, Robson hopes to inspire others to reflect on their behavior and power as human beings and consumers. “I have been developing and refining my techniques,” she says, “so that I can share them and try to shift the way art is taught in schools so that more artists around the world can use their skills in innovative, sustainable ways.” Hesperus (photo by Marshall Coles).jpg