OS Projects presents What We Leave Behind, a survey of Chicago artist Toby Zallman’s works from 2018 through 2024. The exhibit, which opens February 10, 2024 and continues through April 13, 2024, features large-scale drawings, sculptures and an installation. A reception for the artist takes place on Saturday, February 10, from 1 – 3 pm. Zallman will also give a talk about the exhibit at 2 pm that day.
Toby Zallman’s labor-intensive art transforms toxic refuse into evocative objects of abstract seduction that inject beauty into environmentally devastating situations while arousing cognitive dissonance in viewers. Her works respond to society’s single-use culture of waste by incorporating mundane and utilitarian materials into an engaging visual experience that incites both pleasure and distress.
Zallman is attracted to the physical qualities embodied in waste products, which provide a rich range of possibilities for transformation into both 2-D and 3-D forms. Sculptures in the show include a work constructed from over one thousand plastic bottles and small “molluscs” made from plastic waste. The drawings and installation combine conventional drawing materials with computer-manipulated images and reference shopping bags, water bottles and trash bags. Several are made up of numerous individual pieces of paper the artist pieces together into monumental grids that extend across the wall.
What We Leave Behind, the show’s title, refers to the plastic waste that is blighting our planet and will take years to break down into the toxic chemicals from which it was made. It is Zallman’s hope that by creating alluring objects and visual experiences from the waste, while simultaneously foregrounding our complicity in ecological degradation, her project will support behavioral change.
About the Artist
Toby Zallman is a Chicago artist whose art practice focuses on sculpture and drawing. In 2004, after becoming aware of the degree to which our plastic and e-waste is damaging the environment, she began incorporating recycled/re-purposed materials into her sculpture and utilizing them as a source of visual inspiration for both her sculptures and drawings. She has used computer detritus, plastic bags, plastic bottles and solid plastic trash to create unique art works
that shed light on the environmental devastation caused by rampant consumerism. Zallman shows both locally and nationally. Recent exhibits include “Transformations” at the Evanston Art Center (3-person exhibit), “reefscollapse” at Ignition Projects Space in Chicago (solo) and “Our Plastic Trash” at Western Illinois University (solo.) Zallman is the recipient of a 2022 Puffin Foundation grant, several Illinois Arts Council grants and an Individual Artist Program Grant from the City of Chicago. She has had artist residencies at the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo and Ragdale.
Image: Toby Zallman, Ice Mountain, 2021, 18” x 20” x 22”, made from approximately 1,200 plastic bottles.