Ah, the fuzzy outline of a memory just out of reach—Paige Mazurek nails the eerie feeling with Oasis in the Dark, an illuminated sculptural series of ultra-processed American foods and disposable tableware.
Crafted from resin, polymer clay, and UV-reactive materials, Mazurek’s series literally glows with a syrupy sweet nostalgia. With its emphasis on junk food relics—cherry snowballs, Dixie cups, and potato chip bags all make an appearance—Oasis in the Dark is an exploration of memory, both collective and personal. Though it’s certain she’s nibbled on a cherry snowball at one point in her life—a personal memory—Mazurek is just as fascinated with the snowball as an object of Americana living in the memory of millions.
Mazurek aims to “mimic the same sensations of seeing a gas station mini-mart at night or glowing blow-molded plastic lawn ornaments.” Each work she creates receives dual treatment: one version photographed in light, the second version in dark. The dark works imitate the artificial neon glow of a summer indulgence: a cheap thrill, a sweet treat, melting in a paper cup. Like moths to a flame, we’re drawn toward the light.
Mazurek says of her work, “I am fascinated by the parallels memory has to photography: the ways it can distort, magnify, and embellish through color, light, and the decisive moment.”
Memory still looms as a big mystery in science, but it’s intimately connected with our senses. We remember the taste of melted pink sugar fondly; we miss seeing our electric blue tongues in the bathroom mirror; we crave our honeyed youth like a midnight snack. Don’t be surprised if you get stuck in the sticky glow of Oasis in the Dark—you’re not alone.
Paige Mazurek aims to “mimic the same sensations of seeing a gas station mini-mart at night.”
Oasis in the Dark
All photos published with permission of the artist.
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