Along the shore of Dead Horse Bay in Brooklyn, New York, the tides slowly expose the contents of closed landfills. Depression-era glass, soles of shoes, and conglomerations of inorganic and organic materials litter the coastal zone.

It is there that artist Bea Fremderman sourced materials for a body of work featured in Weeds Compared to Flowers, on view at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, through February 18, 2024.

Upon her first visit to Dead Horse Bay, Fremderman described the site as the most apocalyptic landscape she had ever experienced. Once a hub for rendering dead horses and for industrial and urban waste processing, storage, and incineration, the area became renowned for its putrefaction. Today, sections are closed due to chemical pollutants and radioactive contamination.

Fremderman imagines the personas of those who may have used the detritus she collects. After a deep cleaning process, she assembles her gatherings in a technique like that used to make stained-glass windows.

Lit from within, the amoeba-like forms guide visitors through the gallery. Upon closer inspection stems of goblets, electronic chips, and pieces of dinnerware can be identified within the assemblages. The textures, colors, and shapes emanating from the sculptures result in an immersive installation.

The work hopes to offer a link to place — in this case, a landscape where the human footprint contorts and is contorted by the environment. Through the re-presentation and re-purposing of waste, Weeds Compared to Flowers intends to visualize human interconnection with disposable objects, the Earth, and an unknowable future.

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Presentation of Weeds Compared to Flowers is supported by the Kohler Trust for Arts and Education, Ruth Foundation for the Arts, the Frederic Cornell Kohler Charitable Trust, Kohler Foundation, Inc., and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.