Dallas-based artist Narong Tintamusik explores themes of personal and cultural heritage while acknowledging the corporeal relationship between humanity and waste.
Dallas-based artist Narong Tintamusik explores themes of personal and cultural heritage as they relate to his identity as a queer, Thai American Buddhist. His recent series, Snack Wrap (2022-present), is no exception.
Inspired by his mother’s culinary practice and Buddhist beliefs, Tintamusik notes that the sculptures he creates for the Snack Wrap series “pay homage to the traditional Thai practice of wrapping food in leaves, while incorporating unconventional materials to create ‘inedibles.’”
The mixed-media sculptures of Snack Wrap incorporate a variety of found objects and waste products that produce clustered, asymmetrical forms that appear globular and vibrantly colored. While the trash aesthetic challenges normative concepts of beauty, it also questions the ascendance of a pleasure-based society during our moment of ecological collapse.
The confluence of culinary arts, inedible objects, and ecological devastation necessarily brings to mind the recently discovered fact that most human bodies now contain detectable amounts of microplastics in their lungs and bloodstreams. Placental material passes microplastics to fetuses in utero, and newborns can ingest them through a mother’s breast milk. To be born into this world now means that one is born into and of plastic.
Indeed, the human body born of plastic reverberates through the Snack Series in the form of wearables. Several of Tintamusik’s artworks can be worn as necklaces that hang down over the chest. By leveraging the body as an integral form of display, the artist acknowledges the corporeal relationship between humanity and waste.
“Ultimately,” Tintamusik says, “this series serves as a conduit to connect with Thai culture while inviting viewers to reassess their own values and perceptions of worth,” including what we as a society champion and affirm during the rise of the Anthropocene.
Tintamusik, whose educational background is rooted in the biological sciences, now studies at the University of North Texas where he is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts. Before entering graduate school, the artist spent seven years working in the environmental science industry.