Born in White Plains, NY, 1953
Works in Red Hook, NY

Year created: 
Big, with rift, Steven Siegel

Steven Siegel. Big, with rift. 2009. Paper and flora. 6'11" x 31'9" x 10'5".

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6'11" x 31'9" x 10'5"

Paper and flora
Newspaper Courtesy of the Worcester Telegram and Gazette

Steven Siegel transforms familiar, everyday objects like newspapers, plastic bottles, and e-waste into monumental sculpture to create a meditation on impermanence, temporality, and our vulnerability to the effects of time, deterioration, and cyclicality. For Big, with rift, designed specifically for DeCordova, Siegel worked with a corps of volunteers to stack and nail twenty-five cubic yards of over-printed newspaper around an armature of Douglas fir. Neatly folded and meticulously arranged in repeating layers, the exposed newspaper emulates geological strata. Siegel removed the native vegetation from the surrounding ground and transplanted it on the top of the final sculpture to create an experience that mimics an excavation site. As such, the layered sculpture functions as a core sample of the earth with the surrounding land eroded away, exposing the effects of time.

The integration of the newspapers with the nearby landscape creates an uncanny scenario in which the detritus of civilization emulates ephemeral organic forms. Symbolized by the newspapers, society's remains are buried under earth and vegetation, subject to erosion, deterioration, and historic memory. Over time, Siegel's construction will shift and change as the newspapers decompose and the plant life continues to grow and consume the work. This evolutionary process literally gives the newspapers new life as they weather rain and other environmental effects and ultimately return to the soil.

In addition to an active studio practice, Siegel has installed site-specific work internationally, working on projects that involve consumer waste for over two decades. Recent installations by the artist are on view in Gong-Ju Korea, Mirabel, Canada, the University of Wyoming Museum of Art, Laramie, and the North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh.