Gwenyth Chao: Plasticity at Gallery Stratford

On view until January 16, 2022


The Plasticity series is a biodegradeable index of plastic containers we consume daily. Inspired by children’s science experiments and research from open-source biomaterial resources, the sculptures are made from consumable food items: water, tapioca starch, glycerin and vinegar. All 5,6,7 sculptures in the exhibition will return to the earth as compost at a much faster rate than the original casted objects. The exhibition is a meditation on what it means to be plastic in our Anthropocene era. Subverting the penchant to collect and effectively take out of use, the non-archival nature of Plasticity is a way to potentially decolonize the museum space and rethink the narratives told by selectively preserved objects. The materiality of tapioca bioplastic continuously shifts and shrinks after drying, reflecting the changing fragility of our relationship with the environment. The bioplastic sculptures gradually deteriorate over the course of the exhibition with each change in brittleness and off-colour tint. The Plasticity exhibition consolidates the environmental subtexts in Chao’s previous works and the questions surrounding our reliance on plastics and the ecological responsibility of the art world were part of conversations she had at Banff’s Plastics Artist-in-Residency program (’21).


Gwenyth Chao (she/her) is an artist born in Tkaronto/Toronto, Canada. She completed her BA in Studio Art at the University of Guelph (’17) and is currently a Master of Fine Arts candidate at Emily Carr University of Art and Design (anticipated ‘23.) Working primarily in sculpture and installation, Chao’s practice questions how materials – from optical appearance to historical context to molecular structure – can condition and authenticate meaning. Driven by an awareness of experimental possibility, her recent projects rework detritus and salvaged materials to complicate questions of gendered and culturally-specific labour. The Plasticity exhibition is part of Chao’s ongoing research where she explores how material reconstitution can be informed by an ecological awareness.

Chao has recently showed work with the Gladstone Hotel Gallery (Toronto, ON), Latcham Art Centre (Stouffville, ON), Cambridge Art Galleries (Cambridge, ON), University of Waterloo (Waterloo, ON) and Boarding House Gallery (Guelph, ON). In the winter, Chao’s work will be presented at the Richmond Art Gallery (Richmond, BC) and the Design TO Festival (Toronto, ON). Her next solo exhibition will be at Centre culturel Georges-Vanier (Montreal) in fall of 2022. She is a fellowship recipient at Vermont Studio Center and a contributing artist to the Leaning Out of Windows interdisciplinary art and science project.


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Monday – Wednesday noon to 6 PM
Thursday – Sunday noon to 8 PM
Please note that Gallery Stratford is a partially accessible venue and that covid safety protocols are in place.

Gallery Stratford
54 Romeo Street S
Stratford, ON N5A 4S9


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Thank you to the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for their support.