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Chitosan Bioplastic

Projects, Artworks, and Experiments

"Crypto Winter", chitosan and ink on birch panel, 9"x12", 2022

Chitosan is a derivative of chitin–the most abundant naturally occurring polymer besides cellulose.

Found in insect shells, the walls of fungi, and fish scales, chitosan is sustainably sourced as a waste stream product of the shellfish industry. It is nontoxic, biodegradable, and biocompatible. The established and potential applications of this material are far-reaching in many fields and more uses are being found consistently. It is used medicinally to treat wounds and binds to cholesterol in the digestive tract.  It has a positive charge which makes it useful as a water purifier and antibacterial coating, it is a fire retardant, a plant elicitor, and a biostimulator.  For art purposes, chitosan has proven to be an incredible binder and casting medium to replace petroleum-based plastics.  It can recreate even the most microscopic details of lenticular lenses and diffraction grating to create optical effects, projected holograms, and prismatic colors. It can be cast into endless forms, pigmented with natural or synthetic pigment, used as a coating or paint, and infused with or onto other materials for rigidity.  Experiments in its potential as an art medium are ongoing.

In early 2021, when I had just begun to experiment with using Chitosan as a replacement for petroleum-based materials in my practice, I was invited to create a window installation using the bioplastic as a part of the Substance Exhibit at Pace University.  In preparation for the show that took place in September 2021, I was able to use the full gallery in the historic 41 Park Row building as a residency for 20 days in March. 
Images here are from both the final version in the exhibition as well as during the experimental and performative residency.


"New Skein"
"Seafoam Brainfog"
"Peak Experience"
"Mycelial Star"
"Yellow Bellied Pink"
"Carthamus Compass"
"Red Flags"

Experiments and Prototypes

Holographic Chitosan Prototype

Holographic Chitosan Prototype

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