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Plastic Icons

works Katie Kameen & Tabitha Ott 

Online Exhibition Only

Virtual Exhibit Opens
April 6, 2020

Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the Arts Council of York County has delayed the opening of Plastic Icons.


Exploring our consume-and-discard culture, Katie Kameen and Tabitha Ott transform jettisoned plastics into interactive, wearable works of art and sculpture. Each creates unique, playful pieces that challenge and reconfigure the viewer’s stereotypes by engaging tactile sensory memory.


Click the Virtual Gallery image below to visit the Plastic Icons online galleries.


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In our current consume-and-discard culture, it is both necessary and exciting to examine the potential for creative reuse in quotidian objects. These functional items offer more than just convenience. They speak about our habits and movements, as their forms often personify human characteristics. Due to their cheap mass-produced nature we quickly replace these items with readily available upgrades. Once out of sight they are forgotten, but these objects still hold our memories. The sight or touch of a familiar object can overwhelm us with nostalgia or evoke a sense of déjà vu.

Katie Kameen is interested in how objects communicate with us and help us connect with one another by way of our memories. For this reason, Kameen's chosen materials originate from periods that coincide with her parents’ lives and her early childhood. Common utilitarian objects remind Katie of time spent working with her parents at home, and old fabrics conjure memories of sewing with her grandmother. These recollections come from the physical characteristics of the objects. The material, surface texture, and color bring back sensory memories that are different from looking at an old photograph. In her search to expose these characteristics, Ms. Kameen looks beyond function and focus on formal attributes, finding new context without rules or restrictions. She combines midcentury dishes with contemporary plastics to examine our past and present relationship with inexpensive products. Instead of acquiescing to the end of their usefulness these items captivate Katie's attention and ignites her imagination.

Kameen uses familiar found objects to explore how objects communicate with us and help us connect with one another. From these objects she creates playful sculptures that embody her memories, habits, and relationships. In order to pair the familiar with the mysterious, Kameen looks beyond function and focus on the object’s form, material, texture and color. She embraces the bright colors inherent in plastic to illustrate the thrill of creation and the excitement of a fond memory. Katie plays with how objects can fit together, and how their physical interaction challenges their intended function.

Plastic objects are meant to be used and touched, which is why some of Ms. Kameen's sculptures are interactive, wearable pieces. Necklaces and brooches invite the wearer to feel the weight of the piece, and to explore her fabrication processes. Kameen uses cold connections to assemble her sculptures, which lends the work a very logical, structural feeling. She does not use heat, and there is no melting involved in her practice. Katie uses rivets, bolts, screws and pegs to collage plastic objects together. These methods involve problem solving and extensive planning, but the result ensures the physical stability of a piece and that it can be unassembled and reassembled. This physical interaction is natural for us since plastic has become an overwhelming part of our lives, and Kameen invites viewers to recognize that even though plastic objects are designed to be disposable, we can give them a new purpose in our lives.


Katie Kameen creates sculptures by playfully experimenting with used plastic objects. Kameen received her BFA in 3D Studio from Eastern Illinois University, and her MFA in Metalsmithing and Jewelry Design from Indiana University in Bloomington Indiana. Kameen has shown her work at the Appalachian Center for Craft in Smithville, Tennessee, the Center on Contemporary Art in Seattle, Washington and in many exhibitions across the country.  Her work has been published in American Craft Magazine, Friend of the Artist and Uppercase Magazine. Kameen has exhibited internationally at venues including Kunstnerforbundet Gallery in Oslo, Norway, Galerie Marzee in Nijmegen, Netherlands, and Talente 2017 in Munich, Germany. Kameen is currently working and living in South Carolina. 


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Jewelry should be FUN and can function as WEARABLE ART.

Tabitha Ott is constantly transforming objects and materials that would normally be thought of as waste into wearable art through repurposing and upcycling. By utilizing color, movement, and tactile qualities, Ott encourages a playful interaction between the wearer/viewer and the artwork. It is her goal to create thought provoking wearable art that challenges and reconfigures viewer stereotypes of material usage, value, and importance.


Tabitha Ott received her Masters of Fine Arts Degree in Jewelry/Metals from Kent State University in 2012 and her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Sculpture: Jewelry/Metals from Winthrop University in 2008. Originally from Orangeburg, she now resides in Cayce, SC. Tabitha has been teaching full time in the Department of Art at Claflin University since 2014. She currently has a studio at Tapp’s Art Center in downtown Columbia, SC.

Images in Tabitha Ott's galleries were taken by:

Green Antler Photography, Molly Harrell, Gustavo Orlando, Columbia Fashion Week, and Kati Baldwin

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