Constance Old: The Art of Consumer Detritus opens at the New Canaan Historical Society on May 17th with a reception from 5:30-7:30 pm. The exhibition runs through June 30.
Constance Old’s work comes from a tradition of upcycling materials that began in Colonial America. Settlers were quick to adhere to the mantra of “waste not, want not.” Living in rural New England with little money, women did what they could to cover the cold floors in their homes. They took the burlap from empty seed sacks, cut strips of fabric out of old clothes, ribbons or scraps, pulled the fabric through the burlap and made floor coverings.
Constance Old collects materials, including sales receipts, bar codes from merchandise or food, newspaper bags, caution tape or other plastics. Then, using early American traditional skills – rug hooking, embroidery, needlepoint, she repurposes the detritus of twenty-first century consumerism. By hearkening back to an age where conservation was born of necessity, her art speaks to the excesses of contemporary society and the need to preserve the fragile environment.
The show features more than forty works by Constance Old. In addition, the New Canaan Museum and Historical Society presents materials from its permanent collection, including Victorian samplers, a cigar ribbon quilt, and a sewing table. These items illustrate that traditional skills have produced incredible art from repurposed materials for more than 200 years.