A Plastic Photo Story with Robin Frohardt

This week, the CPA team caught up with artist, director, and puppeteer Robin Frohardt––2018 CPA/Mellon DisTIL Fellow––to reminisce about her artist residency with us in advance of her episode of The Spark with Tift Merritt on Thursday, May 6. Together with staff members Christina Rodriguez and Jess Abel, Robin takes us through her time developing Plastic Bag Store at Carolina Performing Arts, her Chapel Hill community workshops, interviews, and more.

Robin: In 2018, I taught a plastic cupcake making workshop at UNC.
Christina: I would have never thought a Med Deli lunch could be topped by a dessert of plastic bag cupcakes, but here I stand corrected.
Jess: It was so fun walking around campus after this workshop––I passed so many friends who were beaming about their Plastic Bag Store inspired art.

Christina: In the lead-up to PLASTICON, the festival we hosted at CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio as part of Robin’s fellowship, she was a guest on WUNC’s The State of Things. Robin is pictured here in studio with host Frank Stasio and Courtney Woods, professor in the department of environmental sciences and engineering at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. You can listen to their conversation here!
Robin: I was definitely trying to play it cool and not show how excited I was to be on WUNC #publicradionerd

Christina: In a collaboration with CPA, the Center for the Study of the American South collected hundreds of plastic bags on campus so they could be repurposed into art—under the expert tutelage of Robin, of course! Pictured here is a segment of an in progress quilt made from plastic bags.

Robin: In 2018 I collaborated with Admiral Gray and Erica Livingston on TRASH TALK, a fake news report on plastic pollution.
Christina: TRASH TALK is a great example of how delightfully wide-ranging Robin’s artistry is. Visual art, performance, puppetry—it’s got it all.

Robin: A TRASH TALK reporter interviews the Dumpster Monster at PLASTICON, a day-long festival at CURRENT in spring 2018.
Christina: Not pictured is the small child who took it upon himself to stand guard around the dumpster to ensure that no one was unduly frightened or attacked by said monster.
Jess: I cancelled my afternoon plans after running into Dumpster Monster on UNC’s main quad on Arts Everywhere Day. Watching people beat down that trash beast remains one of my favorite memories during my time as a student at UNC.

Robin: Behind the scenes: “Polly Ethylene” and “Polly Propylene” in the CPA dressing room getting ready for their interview on TRASH TALK.
Christina: Only Robin could make a dress created from bags and plastic wrap look glamorous! Note the color palette-appropriate Marilyn Monroe beauty mark.

Woman with blonde hair stands with arms full of grocery items in what looks like a convenience store.

And finally: Robin’s shopping spree around Plastic Bag Store! In September 2018, we fully took over the Studio at CURRENT for this incredible installation filled with grocery items, all handmade by Robin and her team. Patrons wandered around the “store” to marvel at “Bitz” crackers, “Yucky Shards” cereal, and much more, before stepping through the freezer case for a performance that covered the past, present, and future of plastic, all with Robin’s trademark humor.

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