In her series “Mind over Matter” and “Kindred Spirits,” artist Suzanne Jongman has models adopt Old Masters-style poses in period costumes made from packaging materials like foam, bubble wrap and jar lids.
Similarly, the idea for her 2012 portrait “Julie, Portrait of a Woman,” which borrows its pose from 15th-century painter Rogier van der Weyden’s “Portrait of a Lady” (1460), came from a discarded tomato sauce lid ring. In her photo, the lid is worn as a ring on the model’s right hand.
“It’s a kind of discovery. I see the material, I start to play with it and put it on the mannequin, and all of a sudden it’s a piece of clothing,” Jongmans said. “But then I can also see the work of an Old Master, and one of the clothing items (in the portrait) reminds me of one of the materials I have lying around in my atelier. So, there is a kind of dialogue between the old world and the new world.”
Her reuse of waste materials can be seen as an obvious statement about sustainability, mass consumption and contemporary throwaway culture. And yet Jongmans says her work isn’t intended to be political. “I’m not judging people for buying things. I’m not an activist like that. I just want to share the beauty in every material. In my new series, for example, I use things that I find in nature. If something catches my eye, I want to share it,” she said.