Dianna Cohen Turns Plastic Pollution Into Art
by michael ventre
FROM LEFT: Wallflower by Dianna Cohen; Dianna Cohen’s Rose
Dianna Cohen feeds off plastics. Not literally, mind you, but the Los Angeles-based visual artist and activist has used the distinctive aesthetic of plastic bags and handles, thread, and other discarded materials to create uncommon colorful works that have wowed gazers at numerous shows. At the same time, she has sounded the alarm about the environmental calamity created by so much disposable plastic. “Plastic pollution is omnipresent,” says Cohen. “It’s insidious. It’s ubiquitous. I think people are only now waking up and developing an understanding of this.”
As one of the founders of the California-based Plastic Pollution Coalition—a global alliance focused on ending plastic pollution—Cohen has helped bring together like-minded individuals and groups to raise awareness about the toxic impact of single-use and disposable plastic on humans, animals, and the planet.
Her message has been delivered at various conferences and speaking engagements around the world since her first exhibit using plastic bags in Brussels in 1993. In March, her large-scale works will be part of a group show at LA’s Thomas Solomon Gallery in Chinatown. “One of the things I strive for in my work is to present either an image of something mundane, or to take mundane material and attempt to transform it so I can get people to look at it in a new way,” says Cohen. “If that leads to them reconsidering the material or inspires them with other thoughts or to say, ‘This is not just garbage or trash or a throwaway item,’ that’s interesting to me.”
We go behind the scenes with James Marsden, and ask him about the shoot, living in LA, and what's next.