Chrissy P. Day invokes memory as a means for reinvention through Recycled Artist in Residency program

Arts / Article

Above: Chrissy P. Day, “False Fit.” Photos by Chip Schwartz.

Revolution Recovery’s Recycled Artist in Residency program offers artists a chance to dig in at the Northeast Philadelphia construction, demolition and manufacturing waste center in order to give new beginnings to materials they find amidst the so-called trash. One year ago, Chrissy P. Day was one of the artists awarded a residency, and the past twelve months have been a whirlwind of finding and reimagining discarded stuff that she wrests from past lives.

Day utilizes the objects and their design as vehicles for exploring her own personal history. She pays close attention not just to the materials, but to their context (or lack thereof), which she wields as a tool for building new meaning. The results of this experiment are showcased at Philadelphia Sculpture Gym, a Knight Arts grantee, for the month of April under the title “Dead Ringers.”

Chrissy P. Day, “Candlestick Colorize.”

The most obvious repurposing lies in Day’s visual excavations. Reflecting her ongoing fascination with interiors and decorative motifs, the two-dimensional quickly gains scope in the hands of this discerning artist. Wallpaper material such as that in “Candlestick Colorize” is adorned with tinted wax and paint to turn fragments of a former rectangular whole into an intricate, discrete object. Along these lines, “False Fit” is particularly powerful. A portion of found vinyl wall covering bearing a marbled pattern is layered with contrasting sections of itself, mimicking its surface through its depth and negative space. The holes in the center appear as if they were burned through the panel with some caustic substance, and the drop shadows they cast below are nothing short of spectacular.

Vinyl lawn chairs are practically nostalgia in furniture form. If you don’t have fond memories of lounging in these gaudy synthetic-strapped, aluminum seats, it would be safe to say there’s a family photo album somewhere that would serve as a reminder. For Day, pulling these fibers from the trash heap was probably something like a reunion with springs and summertimes past. “Blooming Vinyl” sees these scraps of retro material styled into the petals of artificial flowers.

Chrissy P. Day, “Blooming Vinyl.”

Elsewhere, Day captures pieces of recorded history directly through salvaged cassette tapes. In “Lionel Richie Can’t Slow Down, Literally,” Day has recorded a broken clock radio that is only able to play tapes at a comically fast tick. The song being played is Lionel Richie’s “Can’t Slow Down,” naturally. As an analog glitch turned play on words, this piece seems only skin deep, but paired with “RELAAAX” (which captures a found hypnotherapy session) and “Realistic Pocket Philosophy,” Day’s auditory discoveries run the gamut. The latter finds the voice of an anonymous old man talking to himself (or possibly someone else) about the nature of the mind. His gritty voice encourages us to break free of our mental programming and see our minds for what they truly are: computers.

From design to technology, object-making and wordplay (Day also published a small book of poetry for the exhibit), Chrissy Day has managed to salvage all manner of meaning from an untimely end. Also, the Recycled Artist in Residency program is just kicking off its spring 2016 season with a new series, “Live at the Dump,” which invites the public to the Revolution Recovery facility for live art, interactive performances and movie nights. At the Sculpture Gym, “Dead Ringers” will be on display through April 29.