Year created:
Courtesy of the artist and Samsøn Projects, Boston

Aaron Stephan. Untitled (16 Garbage Cans). 2013.  Aluminum. 3 feet x 14 feet x 14 feet.

Click images for larger view

3 feet x 14 feet x 14 feet

Exhibit Date: 
On View Jul 10, 2013 - Apr 01, 2014

No longer on view.

Aaron Stephan’s sculptures elevate the ordinary to the ideal by providing everyday objects with new contexts, alterations, and serial qualities. Based in Portland, Maine, Stephan employs common forms, ranging from industrial railings to trash barrels, to create sculptures which embody a new utopian space. As part of deCordova’s PLATFORM series, Stephan presents recreations of iconic twentieth-century sculptures recontextualized in the vernacular of the Sculpture Park and Museum’s architecture and facilities. Using borrowed forms, Stephan has reconstructed sculptural masterpieces by Vladimir Tatlin, Donald Judd, and Robert Smithson in the three-part installation located on the Rappaport Rooftop Terrace, on the Sculpture Park Terrace, and in the Sculpture Park.

Untitled (16 Garbage Cans), located on the Sculpture Park Terrace, is inspired by the work of Donald Judd (1928-1994).  Judd’s sculptures often repeat a series of minimal forms to explore the potential beauty of the mass produced object and the physicality of abstraction. Inspired by the Museum’s silver, cuboid garbage cans found on the back patio, Stephan has employed a similar working process to Judd’s in creating Untitled (16 Garbage Cans). Using the design of 16 garbage cans as a standard unit, Stephan repeats the box forms in a grid reminiscent of Judd’s Minimalist works. As with Judd’s sculptures, Untitled (16 Garbage Cans) is created with industrial materials such as aluminum; however it contrasts in the potential functionality of the identifiable garbage cans. By recontextualizing both the historical artwork and the recognizable forms, Stephan reveals a utopian conception in the tranquil subtleties of what otherwise could be seen as ordinary objects. 

Aaron Stephan received his B.F.A. in sculpture from SUNY Purchase College in 1996, and M.F.A. from Maine College of Art, Portland, ME in 2002. His work has been shown in the Portland Museum of Art, The Institute of Contemporary Art Portland, The Center for Maine Contemporary Art, and recently contributed to the Percent for Art Projects in Biddeford, Maine.

PLATFORM is a series of solo exhibitions by early- and mid-career artists from both the New England and national arts communities. These shows focus on work that engages with deCordova's unique architectural spaces and social, geographical, and physical location. The PLATFORM series is intended to support creativity and the expression of new ideas, and is a catalyst for dialogue about contemporary art.

The 2012–2013 PLATFORM series is generously funded by James and Audrey Foster.

PLATFORM 12: Aaron Stephan Secondhand Utopias

Image courtesy of the artist and Samson, Boston.