A Local Artist’s ‘Plastover’ Installation Highlights Issues of Single-Use Plastic

Commissioned by Jewish nonprofit Reboot for its eco-friendly initiative, Olivia Guterson’s new work is on display at MOCAD
Detroit artist Olivia Guterson creates her installation inspired by Plastover. // Photograph by Sal Rodriguez

The Jewish arts and culture nonprofit Reboot is celebrating Passover this year with an eco-friendly initiative called Plastover, and it’s highlighting the work of a Detroit artist while doing so. To coincide with the launch of the initiative — which is challenging people to eliminate single-use plastic during the eight days of Passover — the nonprofit has teamed up with the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit to display a 20-foot-long installation called “At Our Table” by interdisciplinary artist Olivia Guterson.

With the theme of Plastover as her inspiration, Guterson used locally sourced and discarded single-use plastics to create a Passover table set for four socially-distance diners. “At Our Table,” Reboot officials say, spotlights issues related to convenience and throwaway culture and environmental responsibility during Passover, a time focused on joy and sacrifice.

“My inspiration was to engage people in a dialogue around identity, normality, and material culture,” says Guterson in a press release. She is a member of Reboot and is influenced by her upbringing in the Southwest and her Jewish and Black heritage. “The piece is a deep and personal investigation around how commodity and material culture impact and inform our sense of self, our perception of each other, and how we assign value to objects. In doing so, it allows us to question what we buy, preserve, and discard as a means of understanding who we are and the true price of convenience.”

Reboot was awarded a grant by Canvas, a Jewish arts and culture funding collaborative, to commission the work by Guterson as part of Canvas’ Dwelling in the Time of Plagues project. The project asked Jewish creatives to reinterpret the themes of Passover in response to what’s happening in the world today. Their art is displayed online at bycanvas.org and at museums in Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, New York, Toronto, and of course, Detroit, where locals can view “At Our Table” from March 25 to April 5 outside MOCAD.

“MOCAD is excited to partner with Reboot to present the timely work of Detroit-based artist Olivia Guterson,” says Jova Lynne, Susanne Feld Hilberry senior curator at the museum, in a press release. “With this project, we hope that viewers will be activated in learning more about the rich history of Passover through the lens of contemporary art.”

For more information, visit reboot.net and mocadetroit.org.

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Emma Klug is a senior editor and digital content coordinator at Hour Detroit. In her role, Klug writes and edits stories on community, art, food, and lifestyle topics for hourdetroit.com, edits the Hour Daily newsletter, and is involved in planning and proofing the monthly print magazine. She also oversees the editorial web internship program for the magazine. A graduate of Columbia College Chicago, Klug has been with Hour Detroit since 2016. She has also contributed to Hour Media publications DBusiness magazine and Metro Detroit Weddings magazine. You can reach her at eklug@hour-media.com.