Turning trash into art is like meditation.
MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE ART OF MARITA DINGUS BY STACY LAWSON 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 34
In 1988 I purchased a necklace from my friend Jacqui’s boutique, Jordan, on Fifth and Pine Street in downtown Seattle. It was one of the few things in the shop that I could afford. Fifty dollars was a good part of my weekly budget then. I fell for this homely piece–a loose-limbed female figure made of wire, beads, and scrap fabric with skinny plexi-glass arms and legs that dangled from its body. The pendant hung on a chain of leather cord and odd-metal links. I loved the way it moved as I walked, clacking softly like a small wind chime. I loved its expression of surprise drawn in ballpoint. Unfortunately, I lost it before I understood that it was more than just a quirky necklace made of junk. It was a Marita Dingus original. It was the start of my love affair with an artist, her work, her process, her philosophy, and her drive to speak about difficult subjects in a medium other than words.
Now, 25 years later, Dingus–a thin youthful woman turning 60 with coca-colored skin, a warm smile, and an array of graying dreds–is a well-respected assemblage artist. Since childhood she has made art from found objects. She is a dumpster diver, an environmental steward, a human-rights activist, and a librarian of human waste. In her own words, “I use things that people no longer see value in.” Stuff most of us would call trash. A wad of soiled electrical tape becomes a black rose when straightened and curled around itself. An empty plastic spool from thread becomes the torso for a doll. Dingus has a sensitivity to wastefulness that is common for those who survived the Great Depression, which she didn’t but her parents did.
NOGALES, MI by HENK HOPMAN 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 34
UNIDENTIFIED BRIGHT OBJECT BY JOHN MARTIN 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 34