Arts & Culture

“Overextended” art exhibition reveals Syracuse through trash

“Overextended” exhibit reveals Syracuse through trash

The Everson Museum of Art displays the work of Utica sculptor Marc-Anthony Polizzi.

Wheels and chairs stand out in orange sculpture resting on an orange and white wall.
Hayden Kim
Marc-Anthony Polizzi’s “Overextended” sculpture on display in the Everson Museum of Art.

Bright orange overwhelms the eyes of visitors of the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse. One can’t do anything but stare and attempt to process the mass.

The amalgamation of trash and scraps transformed into sculpture is the work of Utica resident Marc-Anthony Polizzi. Titled “Overextended,” the exhibit contrasts the dull concrete that surrounds it on three sides. 

Polizzi spent three weeks collecting trash off the streets of Syracuse. His creative process involves collecting discarded goods from the communities hosting his exhibits. His goal is to create art that captures the cultural identity of each respective city.

“For some reason, everyone seemed to be throwing away chairs and children’s toys,” Polizzi said. “That seems to be the portrait of Syracuse.”

Covered in orange, a woman figurine sits in front of a wicker chair beside a lawn chair.
A figurine of a woman sits in front of two chairs surrounded by toys.

The contents of the sculpture reflect not only the regional identity, but also the economic state. Polizzi explained impoverished neighborhoods tend to preserve anything that can be repaired, while affluent neighborhoods are more willing to throw something away since they can afford to replace it.

“The pandemic hit and within six months nobody threw out anything,” Polizzi said. “It was akin to people in the great depression holding onto baby food jars because they might need it to store nuts and bolts in – nobody wanted to get rid of anything.”

The type of trash is not the only thing that reflects the idea of over-extension. Construction of the sculpture reflects the limitations of exhibition space. Just three pieces of plywood and three drywall screws hold together the entirety of the piece.

“Beautiful spaces tend to have a lot of dos and don’ts,” Polizzi said. 

To fit the sculpture in the gallery space, Polizzi carried each piece into the museum, constructing the sculpture on-site. 

Across the room, a lonesome bulldog stands guard and watches over the room. Initially found on the side of the road in pieces, Polizzi embraced it as his own.

“I ended up fixing it the best I could – reinforced the inside – filling it with foam, and then it became my mascot,” Polizzi said of the dog.

The nameless dog even sat shotgun in Polizzi’s truck riding along on the journey to pick up other unwanted objects for the installation. 

The orange bulldog sits on a white display as a piece of the orange wall behind seemingly points at it.
The beloved bulldog sits on display.

The signature color of the exhibit was crafted for the mut. Polizzi perfected the pigment on the bulldog before attributing it to the entire exhibit. This time, the orange doesn’t take on its typical Syracuse exuberance. Instead, it reflects the smoke from the Canadian wildfires that floated across New York earlier this summer.

“I found that I did not care at all about the basketball hoops or the chairs,” Polizzi said. “But the dog I accidentally placed a lot of emotional importance on and I couldn’t bring myself to put [it] inside the sculpture.”

The dog was so essential to the project that when it came to placing it within the sculpture, Polizzi couldn’t find the right spot. So, it is now the first piece upon entrance.

Polizzi wasn’t the only one captivated by the dog. “Overextended” joined the art museum as a part of the Everson CNY Artist Initiative. The project held an open call to artists within a 75-mile radius of Syracuse. The program began in 2022 as a way to celebrate and promote artists within the community. 

“His work really just jumped out at us just because of the sheer volume of work he stuffs into these installations,” exhibition manager Steffi Chappell said. “We liked the idea of how each installation he makes is different – he isn’t recycling the same format over and over again.”

Chappell and the rest of the Everson curators strive to help local artists thrive. That means searching for unique styles and identities brought forth through artists’ work. 

“He arrived at the museum with basically a U-Haul full of –  honestly – what looks like garbage,” Chappell said. “To watch him transform the space from something that looks like a junk sale into this really refined and thought out installation was really special.”

“Overextended” will be on display at the Everson Art Museum until Sunday, Sept. 24. Upon closure, Polizzi will individually disassemble the pieces and find them new homes. 

As for the dog, Polizzi said he already has a spot reserved in his workshop. Like the rest of the sculpture’s pieces, what once was discarded is now appreciated.