Swept Away: Dust, Ashes, and Dirt in Contemporary Art and Design

Published on: April 5th, 2012

The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) has explored the intersection of traditional or unusual materials and techniques as viewed through the lens of contemporary art and design in a series of exhibitions that include Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting; Second Lives: Remixing the Ordinary; Slash: Paper Under the Knife; Dead or Alive: Nature Becomes Art; and Otherworldly: Optical Delusions and Small Realities.

The next investigation into unusual mediums features an international group of artists whose major materials are dust, ashes, dirt, and sand. Swept Away: Dust, Ashes, and Dirt in Contemporary Art and Design will highlight works that deal with issues such as the ephemeral nature of art and life, the quality and content of memory, issues of loss and disintegration, and the detritus of human existence. Sculptures made from ash by Chinese artist Zhang Huan, life-size sculptures of unfired dirt by American artist James Croak, and works created from city smog by American artist Kim Abeles, among others, illustrate the transformative potential of humble, overlooked, and discarded materials.

Swept Away Projects
February 28, 2012 – May 14, 2012

An extension of the Swept Away exhibition, Swept Away Projects will include a series of “live” installations occurring during the run of the exhibition that will allow audiences to experience and interact with artists and their site-specific installations made of ash, dust, sand, and dirt. The series includes a dust installation by Croatian Igor Eskinja, a sand installation by German artist Elvira Wersche, and a chalk installation by British artist Linda Florence. In some instances, visitor will actually get to sweep away the installations by walking through and touching them, participating in the ephemeral nature of these artists’ output. Join us for the following live installations:

Elvira Wersche:
Live Installation Dates: February 28th through March 6th
Work on View: February 28th through May 5th

Igor Eskinja:
Live Installation Dates: February 28 through March 2nd
Work on View: February 28th through April 5th

Linda Florence:
Live Installation Dates: April 9th through April 12
Work on View: April 12 – May 14th

A full range of programs will accompany the exhibition. The exhibition will be amplified in a series of video interviews with participating artists and exhibition catalogue. Participating artists include:

Phoebe Cummings (U.K.), Dirt / Paul Hazelton (U.K.), Dust / Kim Abeles (U.S.), Smog / Igor Eskinja (Slovenia, U.K.), Dust / Lee Stoetzel (U.S.), Sand / Alexandre Orion (Brazil), Automobile soot graffiti (video) / James Croak (U.S.), Dirt / Elvira Wersche (Netherlands/Germany), Sand / Catherine Bertola (U.K.), Dust / Jim Dingilian (U.S.), Smoke / Studio Glithero (U.K.), Fire and Smoke / Su Zhiguang (China), Urban Soot / Andy Goldsworthy (U.K.) sand photographs / Stephen Livingstone (U.K.), Smoke and Ashes / Cai Guo-Qiang (China/U.S.), Gunpowder ash / Julie Parker (U.K.), Lint / Antonio Riello (Italy), Burned books, Sand / Cui Fei (China)


Program Contact

Caroline Dionne, Program Director

Program Update

Parsons is not currently admitting new students to this master’s degree program. Parsons is now offering a Graduate Minor in Design Studies that is designed to complement the MA History of Design and Curatorial Studies and other graduate programs across the university in design, liberal arts, and social research.