Konstantin Simun often poses the question “trash or treasure?” when speaking of his sculptures. Simun asks us to see spiritual images in banal plastic vessels such as milk jugs and crates. He accomplishes this through a slight alteration to the original form, a shift in orientation, or the fusing of one object with another. These objects are so ubiquitous and ordinary that we rarely stop to consider their formal qualities, let alone contemplate them as symbolic or transcendent objects. Simun’s fascination with plastic did not diminish over the years, and he continues to create artworks not only from plastic, but also in traditional materials like bronze, silver, and ceramic that replicate the visages that he sees in plastic.
The Sacred in the Profane offers a survey of Simun’s unique capacity to find forms that appear in ancient art and Christian iconography in molded plastic and other consumer objects since his arrival to the United States from Russia in the early 1980s. Viewed within the Museum of Russian Icons, it is possible to contemplate Simun’s exposure to the icon tradition, as well as to consider the way in which Simun’s story of discovery and fascination with plastic parallels the MoRI’s founder and former president of Nypro Plastics Gordon B. Lankton’s connoisseurship of icons.