Washington, DC

Dean Kessmann


The translucent, quasi-organic, saclike forms that are the subjects of Dean Kessmann’s recent color digital prints are curious and inviting, but also a little disturbing. They appear to be embryonic forms so brilliantly backlit that their innards are visible, and their crumpled surfaces suggest impending desiccation. But these things are no longer organic at all. Hundreds of millions of years ago they were plant and animal life, but they subsequently turned into oil that was pumped out of the ground and made into cheap carryalls emblazoned with smiley faces. Yes, they’re plastic bags.

Kessmann’s elegant work rescues these ubiquitous objects from ignominy (as well as, temporarily, from the recycling bin) and cleverly transforms them from aesthetically desolate trash into radiant sculptural forms. Each of the large digital pigment prints in the series “Plastic on Paper,” 2005, depicts a

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