When Jozef Bajus, associate professor of design, saw scraps of leftover material from his home roof-replacement project, he didn’t think of them as garbage, he thought of them as art. Ditto for old brochures, plastic, and pieces of leather.
Bajus has turned items most people would toss in the nearest dumpster into a thought-provoking, three-dimensional exhibition, Nothing Is Going Away. The exhibition opened this fall at the Burchfield Penney Art Center's Sylvia L. Rosen Gallery for Fine Art in Craft Media and runs through March 19.
The 14 pieces that compose the exhibition include “Ivy,” a series of brightly colored felt shapes and pins, and “Rusty,” made from leftover leather pieces Bajus collected from an office equipment manufacturer. The centerpiece of the exhibit is the arresting “Acid Rain,” a collection of hundreds of plastic tubes and wires hanging from the gallery’s skylight.
For Bajus, who moved to the United States from Slovakia in 2001, Nothing Is Going Away is personal. He’s been shocked at the enormous amount of waste that piles up in this country. Since 2005, he has focused on eco-activist art and can speak to the importance of giving new life to everyday objects that otherwise would end up in the landfill.
In 2006, he showed his first environmentally related exhibit, Curved Circle, at the Buffalo Art Studio. The show included a sculpture called “Junk Mail Ring” created from 10 boxes of junk mail.
“A circle is usually perfect, but a curved circle is not,” Bajus explained. “But it’s more like our lives—not perfect. We all struggle with something.”
And that struggle includes the need to live as citizens of this planet in the most responsible manner possible.
“Whatever we do, we are leaving footprints for the next generation,” Bajus said in his artist statement. “Our society of consumers and the related environmental issues are daily question marks. We are recycling, repurposing different materials, but at the end of the day, most household waste and production scraps end up in the landfill.”
About Jozef Bajus
In 2002, Bajus joined the Design Department where he coordinates the fiber program. Prior to that, he served as a visiting artist/guest lecturer at several universities, including Slippery Rock, Montclair State, and the Rhode Island School of Design. He has exhibited throughout Europe, Asia, and North America and is a recipient of the 2016 Langley Kenzie Award, which was created as part of the biennial Art In Craft Media exhibition to recognize an outstanding artist with a solo show. He earned his bachelor of fine art (BFA) and master of fine art (MFA) in painting and fiber from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design /AFAD, Bratislava, Slovakia.
Top: Black Composition, 2014; mixed media, leather.
Bottom: Blistering Vision, 2016; altered catalog, paper, mixed media.