Banned Bags @ the Riverside Art Museum

Posted By Staff

Banned Bags @ the Riverside Art Museum – Artist Josh Blackwell

Riverside CA – On July 1, 2011, LA County Supervisors declared an environmental war on plastic bags by banning these “urban tumbleweeds” in the unincorporated areas of the county when previous measures to get people to recycle their plastic bags failed.

Clearly, the now banned plastic bag’s reputation is in the trash. But artist Josh Blackwell is a man on a mission, a mission to change the way we perceive the utilitarian and humble plastic bag.

Currently on exhibit at the Riverside Art Museum, Blackwell has a small installation of “urban tumbleweeds” on display. With intricately embroidered patterns and swaths of color, Blackwell has managed to repurpose one man’s trash into another man’s treasure.

“Ostensibly useless, plastic bags are the second most common form of litter in the world after cigarette butts,” says Blackwell. “I began collecting semi-degraded plastic bags from kitchen cupboards and city streets about six years ago. The bags are sewn shut with yarn, deliberately thwarting their function. The protean shapes suggest faces, animals, or clothing. Their textured, worn, or melted surfaces wear the remains of physical activity like dirty laundry left on the floor. The bags attempt to redress their impoverished status with the addition of colorful embroidery in geometric patterns.” Blackwell hopes that by, “contrasting ‘artificial’ plastic with ‘natural’ yarn, the work questions the economies of waste and necessity.”

Sharing gallery space with Roger White, both of these artists stretch the imaginary limits of common objects. The exhibition runs from July 2 to September 22, 2011. The opening reception for this exhibit and three others is July 15 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.

Josh Blackwell and Roger White have had numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout the world. Blackwell has had solo exhibitions at Kate Macgarry, London, Rachel Uffner Gallery in New York, and Mary Goldman Gallery in Los Angeles. He currently teaches at the School of Visual Arts, New York, and is represented by Kate Macgarry in London and John Tevis Gallery in Paris. White has recently presented his works in exhibitions at the Mitchell-Innes & Nash and Friedrich Petzel galleries, both in New York, and had a solo exhibition of his works at Rachel Uffner Gallery, New York in 2010. He is represented by Rachel Uffner. He currently teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design.

RAM relies on the generosity of members and donors to support its exhibitions, education programs, and special events. A 50-plus-year-old, private, non-profit cultural arts institution housed in a National Historic 1929 building designed by Hearst Castle architect Julia Morgan, the museum welcomes over 50,000 visitors a year. The museum is open Monday – Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. For information on exhibits, events, classes, memberships, or sponsorship opportunities, visit Find us on Facebook ( and Twitter (@RAMRiverside).