Cynthia Minet “Unsustainable Creatures”: Sculptures of Plastic and Light

Leena Butt/HIGHLANDER
Leena Butt/HIGHLANDER

From Nov. 23 to Dec. 29, The Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts in Downtown Riverside is hosting Cynthia Minet’s new exhibit titled “Unsustainable Creatures.” Walking through the doors, the first things one encounters are some figures that resemble giant oxen, when, in fact, those pieces are the main attraction.

“Unsustainable Creatures” is an exhibit of life-size animals made out of recyclable materials such as plastic storage containers, water bottles, dustpans and even old baby toys. The animals are created by cutting up different recyclable items and bolting them together. The materials were found in dumpsters and thrift stores, then transformed into works of art.

In their interior bodies, the animals are also lit up with colorful LED lights. Appropriate to the season, they resembled ornamented plastic Christmas trees without all the fern. The two animals on display were multiple oxen and one camel.

“To be honest, I find it remarkable that she [Minet] was able to incorporate milk cartons into art,” said Hannah Park, 20, from Cypress, Calif.

The artist, Cynthia Minet, received her masters of fine arts in sculpture at the San Francisco State University, earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and also studied at the Tyler School of Art/Temple University Abroad in Rome, Italy. “Unsustainable Creatures” is one of many of Minet’s projects that have been showcased at art museums. Minet has had her work on display the Moorpark College Art Gallery, Whittier College Greenleaf Gallery and the Los Angeles Natural History Museum and her upcoming work will be presented at the LAX Tom Bradley International Terminal.

Leena Butt/HIGHLANDER
Leena Butt/HIGHLANDER

This is the first time that Minet has had her art featured at the Culver Center of the Arts. Minet’s use of recyclable material demonstrates the need of resource sustainability and the importance of re-using household products to portray different aspects of the world.

The Barbara and Culver Center of the Arts is relatively new, opened in Oct. 2010. The center was named after the former Press-Enterprise co-owners and community leaders. It was renovated and built to contain an exhibition and performance space, an atrium as well as a video screening room and hosts art openings, dance shows, film screenings, musical performances and poetry readings. Multiple films are screened every weekend; film genres include foreign, experimental, alternative, and independent. Ultimately, the mission of the center is to introduce the Riverside community to international artists as well as local artists. The Culver Center is designed to engage the audience in symbolic and thought-provoking events and exhibitions.

Similar to Minet’s art work concerning sustainability, the University of California, Riverside takes pride in its sustainability programs. UCR has initiated a food waste program in the residence dining halls, installed solar panels to provide energy to students, and UCR students in general have created clubs of campus that promote a greener school and community. UCR has also received awards from two local organizations that acknowledged the campus as being and environmentally friendly, sustainable campus.

Cynthia Minet’s “Unsustainable Creatures” displays a sense of inspiration for UCR students as well as the Riverside community. Awareness is developed among the people to be more sustainable and resourceful. The art illustrated the use of recyclable materials as a source of beauty. Overall, the display was a wake-up call for those who are not so resourcefully aware of the world around them.

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